Plaintiffs call last witnesses in voter-ID trial
HARRISBURG — Plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's voter identification law presented their final witnesses Tuesday in an effort to convince a state judge that it cannot be implemented without disenfranchising large numbers of voters.
Three witnesses — all older women who no longer have driver's licenses and rely mainly on relatives and friends for transportation — testified in video recordings played before Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the yet-to-be-enforced mandatory photo ID requirement, one of the strictest in the nation, would discourage many such people from exercising their right to vote. State officials say any registered voter who lacks an acceptable ID can get a special Pennsylvania Department of State voting-only ID for free through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
One of the video witnesses, Patricia Norton, 73, testified that she gave up trying to get a free photo ID prior to last year's presidential election because of an unpleasant encounter with a PennDOT clerk and chronic back pain that requires her to use a wheelchair or a walker.
Norton, who has lived in the Berks County borough of Womelsdorf for nearly a half-century, said a friend drove her on the 45-minute trip to the PennDOT licensing center in Shillington. The clerk said Norton would have to pay $13.50 for a non-driver ID card but, when she tried to pay in cash, the clerk said only a check or money order was acceptable. Lacking either, Norton left empty-handed.
“I was very frustrated,” she said. “It was a painful trip, and she was not a happy helper.”
Echoing other homebound seniors who have testified in the case, Norton said she is uncomfortable “imposing on people” for rides. She said she also has misgivings about casting an absentee ballot, which would get around the photo ID requirement, and prefers to vote in person.
“I want to make sure that I'm being counted,” she said.
Other witnesses included Susan Carty, the newly elected president of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, who said she detected “great confusion” about the law in last fall's election while fielding calls to a Philadelphia TV station's election hotline.
The state's lawyers planned to open its case Wednesday, and the trial was scheduled to continue at least through next Tuesday.
McGinley recessed the court at midday Tuesday because of a scheduling conflict.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sparks fly at 2nd Corbett, Wolf campaign debate
- Flags lowered to mourn Pa. state trooper shot dead during gun training
- AP classes put college-bound students on fast track
- Police find pipe bombs in woods during manhunt for suspect in trooper ambush
- Judge OKs alternative for 2 turnpike corruption case defendants
- Pa. not ready to abandon lethal injections
- Cop killer Abu-Jamal to speak by recording to Vermont school ceremonies
- Bishop mum on accused priest
- 2 men held in fatal Mercer County mobile home heist
- Cop killer to address college commencement
- Expect delays on I-70 in vicinity of New Stanton