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Voter ID ad misleading in 'emphasis and tone,' Mt. Lebanon Democrat says

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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 3:09 p.m.
 

HARRSBURG — A Mt. Lebanon Democrat on Wednesday urged the Corbett administration to pull a television ad on the voter ID law, claiming it misleads people by erroneously suggesting they will be required to show photo identification in the November election.

Sen. Matt Smith, with several other Democratic senators, acknowledged the ad contains a statement that photo ID is not required on Nov. 5. But Smith objects to the ad's “emphasis and tone.”

The ad shows several people saying, “Show it.”

“These advertisements will lead to voter confusion and it is imperative that the spots cease immediately,” Smith said. He said it's wrong to use $1 million in state money for the ad.

But Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Department of State, which oversees elections, said the agency followed a judge's instruction. The administration does not plan to suspend its airing.

A Commonwealth Court ruling in August continued an injunction against a requirement to show identification in the election, until Judge Bernard McGinley rules on the overall law.

“The status of the voter ID law is that voters next month will be asked — but not required — to show an ID, which is exactly what the ads say,” Ruman said. The department recognizes an obligation to educate voters about the law, he said.

“This is the law and we want voters who may not have an ID to understand clearly how they can get one for free, so if this law is eventually upheld, as we believe it will be, all voters will have an ID,” he said.

Before the injunction, the law required voters to show a driver's license or non-driver's card from PennDOT, or a passport, university, military, local government or nursing home ID. The law required PennDOT to issue free non-driver IDs to people without licenses. The Department of State began issuing IDs last year.

Supporters say the law is intended to protect the integrity of the state's voting process. Critics say there's no evidence of in-person voter fraud in polling places.

There have been criminal arrests for voter registration fraud.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol writer. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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