HB 934

PA Voter ID Bill: Costly and Unnecessary … How about Unconstitutional?

Amended House Bill 934, the vote ID bill passed the state Senate yesterday and is on its way back to the House. In a state where there are major budget shortfalls that are forcing reductions in many programs, how is it possible that there is money for this new government program – Pennsylvania voter identification legislation is unnecessary and unaffordable.

There is no evidence that there is fraudulent voting in Pennsylvania that showing a photo ID would solve.  HB 934 will disenfranchise thousands of senior citizens, disabled, working poor and students.  Not only will the bill eliminate voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote, but also it would cost Pennsylvania approximately $4.3 million to implement.

Looking for another reason that HB 934 should not pass, how about unconstitutional? According to Steve Shapiro, an attorney and Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-1, House Bill 934 violates the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Please read the following comment that I received from Steve:

Two things happened this week relating to this issue. First, the Senate yesterday passed an amended version of HB 934, which will now return to the House, where it almost certainly will pass. According to news reports I’ve read, Governor Corbett likely will sign the final bill into law. Second, on Tuesday, a state court Judge in Wisconsin enjoined Wisconsin’s voter identification law because, he held, it likely violated the Wisconsin Constitution (http://media.jsonline.com/documents/Voter+ID+injunction.pdf).

The Wisconsin opinion led me to look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and, sure enough, it appears that HB 934 violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The email below, which I sent to Representative Kampf last night, explains why:

“Warren,

I understand that HB 934, as amended by the Senate, is on its way back to the House for a vote. I am writing to express my grave concern that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that: “Every citizen 21 [now 18] years of age, possessing the following qualifications [relating to citizenship and residency], shall be entitled to vote at all elections subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact.”

As I understand this provision, any qualified voter (i.e., a citizen that meets the residency requirements) who has registered pursuant to the registration laws enacted by the General Assembly has a Constitutional right to vote. HB 934 would prohibit a registered voter who meets the qualifications set out in the Pennsylvania Constitution from voting if he or she does not have proper identification. As such, it would appear that the proposed law would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution, and I am concerned that, if HB 934 is enacted, my fellow poll workers and I will be required to enforce a law that infringes the Constitutional rights of our neighbors.

I urge you to look into this issue before voting on the bill.

Thanks.

Steve Shapiro
Judge of Elections, Tredyffrin W-2″

Thank you Steve for your thoughts on HB 934.  If you are concerned about the voter identification bill and wish to contact State Rep Warren Kampf, his email address is: Wkampf@pahousegop.com

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