Pattye Benson

Community Matters

PA Voter ID Law: Can Court Battles be Far Behind?

Yesterday the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the controversial voter ID bill HB 934 with a vote count of 104 – 88. With Governor Corbett’s signature, Pennsylvania is now home to one of the toughest voter identification laws in the nation.

As expected, legislators cast their votes largely along partisan lines. Locally, Republican state representatives Warren Kampf (R-157) and Duane Milne (R-167) voted for the bill and Democratic state senator Andy Dinniman (D-19) voted against the bill. The law goes into effect today requiring all Pennsylvania voters to present a photo ID issued by state or federal government, a state university or a nursing home, when voting in national, state or local elections.

Rather than closing the chapter on the voter identification bill debate, the passage of this bill will undoubtedly open the floodgates to legal battles. This new voter ID requirement is going to cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than the million of dollars to implement to address a problem that essentially does not exist. Legal challenges to the law are inevitable and those costly court battles will further tap taxpayer funds … in a year that cannot afford such expenses.

In two separate cases this week, we saw Wisconsin and Texas, involved in battles over their new state voter identification laws. In Wisconsin, Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan put a temporary injunction onWisconsin’s voter ID law. A trial to determine whether the injunction will become permanent is set for April 16. The temporary injunction means that the restrict law will not be in effect for Wisconsin’s April 3rd primary and elections. The US Department of Justice blocked the new photo-ID requirement for voters in Texas claiming that many Hispanic voters do not have the proper identification.

Proponents of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID legislation claim that the law is needed to combat voter fraud, although there was no indication of existing voter impersonation fraud in Pennsylvania, which is the only type of voter fraud this legislation would address.

No evidence of voter fraud plague found in Pennsylvania but we now have a law to prevent such an occurrence. Looks to me like Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is a “solution without a problem”.

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    1. This is amazing Steve, thank you! (click on Steve’s link)

      Do you think that those legislators who supported the voter ID bill gave any thought to the degree of training that will be required to implement the process at the local level? I wonder what the plan is for training the poll workers.

    2. Thanks for the chart, Steve! Is there a definition for “substantially conform,” or is it up to the pollworker’s discretion to decide whether the names match? And do poll workers have a list of accredited PA universities?

      1. I do not see a definition of “substantially conform.” I simply do not know how much discretion that leaves with the poll workers.

        As for accredited schools, I asked that very question at the poll worker training class I attended this weekend and was told we will be provided with a list of accredited schools.

  1. Now we need a law requiring that you dip your right index finger in purple ink after voting, like they do in Iraq, to prevent double voting. There may not be any evidence of such abuses, but let’s not let that slow us down.

  2. There Goes $11 million for Our Schools
    Yinzercation Blog — MARCH 15, 2012
    Earlier this week, Governor Corbett asked where he was supposed to get the money to fund public education in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, he signed into law a new Voter ID bill, which does not appear to solve any actual problem in the state, will most certainly face expensive legal challenge, and worse, will cost taxpayers an estimated $11 MILLION to implement.

  3. Governor Corbett and this Republican house is blindly going along with every controversial, stupid, anti-woman, anti-poor, PRO-money wasting, PRO-time wasting piece of legislation that is floating around the nation. Most disgusting was his comment yesterday that if pregnant women seeking abortion don’t like the idea of a mandated ultra-sound, they should just “close their eyes” when the screen image comes up. And, what an intellect he has, talking about that ultra-sound being (pause) “inside or outside”. He is such a barbarian, he doesn’t even know the proper terminology. Add all this to his actions as Atty General when he ignored police reports about Sandusky in ’92: this horrible man needs to be impeached. How do we start?

    1. Oooh; and I thought I was the only one on this rant. The name of the bill is so misleading – Woman’s Right to Know – are they kidding? Today he’s become a laughing stock. He’ll never live it down. No wonder he seldom opens his mouth. Wonder where Steve Aichele was when this happened. And I just can’t figure out what the GOP is trying to do with this crap; nor can I believe female GOPers will continue to put up with it. Maybe we just have to wait until it actually happens to one of them..

  4. PA does not allow for recall of its governor. See

    But the Pennsylvania governor can be impeached. The process is described in the Pennsylvania Constitution. See


    A proceeding brought against a public official by the General Assembly seeking that official’s removal from public office due to misbehavior in office.


    The Constitution gives sole power to initiate the impeachment process to the House of Representatives (see Article VI, Section 4).


    The Constitution requires all impeachments to be tried by the Senate (see Article VI, Section 5).


    No one can be convicted in an impeachment trial without a two-thirds vote of the Senate members present.


    According to the Constitution, the Governor and all other civil officers are liable for impeachment for any misbehavior in office (see Article VI, Section 6).


    Pennsylvania has not often used the impeachment process, probably because citizens are wary of political trials. The House of Representatives demands very clear and serious evidence before it will begin the impeachment process.

    The first impeachment was in 1685, barely three years after the founding of the unicameral Colonial House. Nicholas More, a physician and the second Speaker of the House, was expelled from the body and removed by the Governor as judge of the Provincial Court.

    In 1803, the House impeached three Pennsylvania Supreme Court judges, but the Senate acquitted them.

    On three different occasions in 1816, the House voted to impeach Judge Walter Franklin. But his attorney, James Buchanan, (only 25 and just completing two years as a Representative) argued brilliantly to convince the General Assembly that it should undertake impeachment only in the most dire circumstances. Buchanan later became the 15th President of the United States.

    Efforts were made to impeach Governor George H. Earle during the Great Depression of the 1930s for failing to send the state police to arrest unemployed bootleg coal miners in northeastern Pennsylvania. The House, however, did not consider the charge serious enough.

    On May 24, 1994, Rolf Larsen, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was impeached by the House.

    However, given the current Republican majority in both houses of the Assembly and the great partisan divide that exists, the Governor’s impeachment would seem virtually impossible to carry out.

    I found a grassroots impeachment petition here:

    1. Kate,

      I’m not sure I believe all this is coming from Corbett; it’s the bloody GOP legislators in PA and all the states where the GOP has a majority in the state houses. The problem is that none of them have the gutts to stand up and vote NO when they think the bill has no merit. They’re afraid they’ll be defeated in the next primary. I also can’t believe the legislators who are NOT running for re-election aren’t voting against these bills. Not one republican rep voted No on the Voter ID bill!

      1. MG,
        You’re right that no representative facing election every two years seems inclined to buck his/her party – even if that vote doesn’t change the bill’s outcome.

        But three Republican state senators had the courage to vote against HB 934:

        * Stewart Greenleaf (Dist. 12)
        * Mary Jo White (Dist. 21)
        * Jane Earll (Dist. 49)

        Both women are up for election this year.

    2. I don’t even think it is all the “bloody GOP legislators” as many of these items didn’t make it to the floor for consideration. If it was “all” they would have already passed.

      PA is a big state with a lot of differing views and 2010 saw manyvery conservative legislators from the western and central parts of the state get elected…these initiatives are things they like and introduce. That said, they ARE representing their constituencies. Of course, as many of these haven’t made it for a vote, there are other legislators (of both parties) representing their constituents and opposing them.

      That’s how democracy works – and should work. Here in PA, it is. In Washington, it isn’t. There, it seems whoever is in control jams through their Party’s stuff, sometimes while admittedly not even reading it.

    3. Impeachment, really?

      When Gov. Rendell forced through an income tax increase, or increased debt by billions, or used the tobacco settlement money and other funds for things they were never supposed to be used for, his opponents never called for impeachment.

      It would be my guess you thought the Clinton impeachment was a farce and a partisan witch hunt.

      Yet, here you are calling for the same thing.

      Partisan politics at its most extreme.

  5. Liberals trying to make sense, isn’t that an oxymoron?

    You say voter ID laws are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Let’s see now, people steal, lie, cheat in all others areas of life, but for some reason, they are all little saints when it comes to voting. You’ve got to be kidding me. This is just one example of liberal asinine reasoning that makes anything you as a liberal say, suspect. Just read the article by Jack Kelly and then dare to justify your position.

    Voter fraud is real And voter ID laws are really needed; they are not racist

    Sunday, December 18, 2011 By Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The state chairman of Indiana’s Democratic Party resigned Monday as a probe of election fraud in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary widened.

    State law requires a presidential candidate to gather 500 valid signatures in each county to qualify for the ballot. Barack Obama may not have met it. Investigators think 150 of the 534 signatures the Obama campaign turned in for St. Joseph County may have been forged.

    Yet Democrats say that measures to guard against vote fraud are racist Republican plots to disenfranchise minority voters.

    Republicans “want to literally drag us back to Jim Crow laws,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

    The NAACP has asked the United Nations to intervene to block state voter ID laws. It may have an ulterior motive for opposing ballot security measures. An NAACP official was convicted on 10 counts of absentee voter fraud in Tunica County, Miss., in July.

    Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who is black, said vote fraud is rampant in African-American districts like his in Alabama.

    “The most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African-American community is the wholesale manufacture of ballots at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt,” Mr. Davis said. “Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too mentally impaired to function cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights.”

    Laws requiring photo IDs suppress minority voting, Democrats charge. The facts say otherwise. In Georgia, black voter turnout for the midterm election in 2006 was 42.9 percent. After Georgia passed photo ID, black turnout in the 2010 midterm rose to 50.4 percent. Black turnout also rose in Indiana and Mississippi after photo IDs were required.

    “Concerns about voter identification laws affecting turnout are much ado about nothing,” concluded researchers at the universities of Delaware and Nebraska after examining election data from 2000 through 2006.

    You need a photo ID to get on an airplane or an Amtrak train; to open a bank account, withdraw money from it, or cash a check; to pick up movie and concert tickets; to go into a federal building; to buy alcohol and to apply for food stamps.

    Most Americans don’t think it’s a hardship to ask voters to produce one. A Rasmussen poll in June indicated 75 percent of respondents support photo ID requirements. Huge majorities of Hispanics support voter ID laws, according to a Resurgent Republic poll in September.

    This year there have been investigations, indictments or convictions for vote fraud in California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. In all but one case, the alleged fraudsters were Democrats. Page 1 of 3
    Voter fraud is real 3/16/12 6:17 PM

    In none would the fraud alleged have altered a major election, Democrats note. But in the Illinois gubernatorial election in 1982, 100,000 votes cast in Chicago — 10 percent of the total — were fraudulent, the U.S. attorney there estimated.

    Fraud of the magnitude which swings elections typically combines absentee ballot fraud and voter registration fraud. At least 55 employees or associates of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now have been convicted of registration fraud in 11 states, says Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center, who’s written a book about ACORN.

    Of 1.3 million new registrations ACORN turned in in 2008, election officials rejected 400,000.

    “There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a state’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes,” wrote liberal Justice John Paul Stevens for a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision upholding Indiana’s ID law, the toughest in the nation.

    In a speech Tuesday at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library at the University of Texas, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a full scale assault on the laws the Supreme Court said are constitutional and necessary.

    Mr. Holder — who apparently won’t prosecute violations of the Voting Rights Act if the victims are white — picked an appropriate venue for his attack on the integrity of the ballot. LBJ stole his first election to the Senate, according to one of his biographers.

    A Gallup poll Tuesday indicates why Mr. Holder is trying so hard to gut ballot security measures. Mr. Obama trails in all swing states. Democrats fear they can’t win next year unless they cheat.

    1. For every article or op-ed you can find arguing that voter fraud is a real problem, you can easily find another one reaching the opposite conclusion. For instance, I have provided a link on one below. I, personally, have not reached a conclusion one way or the other because I have not thoroughly studied the question. All I can offer is anecdotal evidence: During the more than ten years I have served as a poll worker (both here in Tredyffrin and before that in Philly), I have not once encountered a situation of voting fraud.

      The Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan, public policy institute, studied voter fraud and issued a report ( Here is the intro to the Voter ID section of the report:

      “The most common example of the harm wrought by imprecise and inflated claims of “voter fraud” is the call for in-person photo identification requirements. Such photo ID laws are effective only in preventing individuals from impersonating other voters at the polls — an occurrence more rare than getting struck by

      By throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the “voter fraud” umbrella, however, advocates for such laws artificially inflate the apparent need for these restrictions and undermine the urgency of other reforms.

      Moreover, as with all restrictions on voters, photo identification requirements have a predictable detrimental impact on eligible citizens. Such laws are only potentially worthwhile if they clearly prevent more problems than they create. If policymakers distinguished real voter fraud from the more common election irregularities erroneously labeled as voter fraud, it would become apparent that the limited benefits of laws like photo ID requirements are simply not worth the cost.

      Royal Masset, the former political director for the Republican Party of Texas, concisely tied all of these strands together in a 2007 Houston Chronicle article concerning a highly controversial battle over photo identification legislation in Texas. Masset connected the inflated furor over voter fraud to photo identification laws and their expected impact on legitimate voters: Among Republicans it is an “article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,” Masset said. He doesn’t agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.

      This remarkably candid observation underscores why it is so critical to get the facts straight on voter fraud. The voter fraud phantom drives policy that disenfranchises actual legitimate voters, without a corresponding actual benefit. Virtuous public policy should stand on more reliable supports.

      There have been a handful of substantiated cases of individual ineligible voters attempting to defraud the election system. But by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.

      In part, this is because fraud by individual voters is a singularly foolish and ineffective way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud in connection with a federal election risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to any state penalties. In return, it yields at most one incremental vote. That single extra vote is simply not worth the price.

      Instead, much evidence that purports to reveal voter fraud can be traced to causes far more logical than fraud by voters. Below, this paper reviews the more common ways in which more benign errors or inconsistencies may be mistaken for voter fraud.”

    2. here in liberal Philadelphia the black panthers were intimidating black voters! No investigation needed

  6. There is a cost to everything. If I want to cash a check, I have to have and ID. If I want to board a plane, I have to show an ID. If I don’t have an ID, I can’t do either one of these. Why should it be more important to have an ID for one of these functions and not for voting? If it’s important enough to you, you will get a photo ID. If you’re lazy, forgetful or what ever, oh well. Life is tough sometimes., next election, you’ll have an ID. I don’t buy into the disenfranchisement argument. That comes from the race baiters when that’s all they have left.

    The foundation of our freedom is based upon the election process, free, open and legitimate. A few extra checks to preserve the very fiber of our freedom, shouldn’t be that much to ask. Unless that is, you or your party rely upon the unseen, unacknowledged fraud to win elections.

    1. It is a fair point to say that many voters who do not already have an ID can and should be able to obtain one with little inconvenience. However, I decided to see if I could come up with an example of a hypothetical voter who would not be able to obtain an ID. It did not take me long:

      Assume the following hypothetical voter: John Doe, a 19 year old natural-born U.S. citizen and recent high school graduate from Philadelphia, comes from a poor family. No one in his family owns a car, so he has no need for and never got a driver’s license (and, in any event, cannot afford the application fee to get one). He could not possibly afford to travel, so he has no need for and never obtained a passport (and, in any event, cannot afford the application fee to get one). He is not pursuing a post-secondary education (and, in any event, cannot afford the tuition), so he does not have a school ID. He is not in the military and does not live in an personal care facility, so he does not have either of those forms of ID. John also does not own a firearm, so he does not need and does not have a weapons permit (and, in any event, could not afford the application fee).

      After graduating from high school, John rented a small apartment, from an absentee landlord, on a month-to-month basis with no lease. Utilities are included in his rent. John is living hand-to-mouth, working sporadically doing whatever day jobs he can find. He is paid under the table in cash. John registered to vote more than 30 days before the upcoming election.

      In order to vote under the new law, John would need a photo ID issued by one of the following: (1) the U.S. government; (2) the Commonwealth; (3) a municipality to an employee; (4) an institution of higher learning; or (5) a Pennsylvania care facility. John does not have any of these forms of ID. The only one he has the option of obtaining without paying a fee is a photo ID card from the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, John does not have the documents necessary to obtain one:

      To obtain a photo ID card, John must present:

      His social security card:


      One of the following documents (“List A Documents”): (i) Birth Certificate; (ii) Certificate of Citizenship; (iii) Naturalization Certificate; or (iv) U.S. Passport.


      TWO of the following documents (“List B Documents”): (i) tax record; (ii) lease agreement; (iii) mortgage document; (iv) W-2 form; (v) weapons permit; (vi) current utility bill. If John does not have two of these documents, he has an alternative. He can (a) “bring the person with whom [he] reside[s] along with their Drivers License or Photo ID to the Driver License Center” AND (b) “provide a second proof of residency such as official mail (bank statement, tax notice, magazine etc.) that has [John’s] name and address on it. The address must match that of the person with whom [John] reside[s].” (Source:

      Now, let’s assume to make things easier that John has: (a) his social security card, (b) his birth certificate (so he has a List A Document), and (c) a bank account for which he receives statements in the mail at his apartment. Despite all of this, he still cannot obtain a photo ID card because he lives alone and, therefore, cannot bring the person with whom he resides to the DMV. And even if his absentee landlord qualified as a “person with whom he resides” (which I very much doubt), how likely is it that the landlord would agree to accompany John to the DMV and sit around with him while he waits for a photo ID card?

      Under this hypothetical, John cannot obtain an ID and is disenfranchised by the new law.

      And if John does not happen to have either his social security card or birth certificate, then the obstacles in his way to voting are even greater:

      If John does not have his social security card, he may have difficulty getting one because the SSA would require him to show a driver’s license, photo ID or passport to get it — and if he already had one of those, John wouldn’t need to get a photo ID card to vote in the first place. The SSA says they MAY accept alternate forms of ID, but that is no guaranty. (Source:

      If John does not have his birth certificate he will need to obtain one, and most states charge a fee for that. For someone living hand-to-mouth, that is a problem.

      Perhaps prohibiting a voter like this hypothetical John Doe from exercising his Constitutional right to vote is a price we are willing to pay to prevent voter impersonation (however prevalent it may or may not be), but if we are going to do that, let’s at least do it with open eyes.

      1. Great analysis, Steve,
        Examples of those who can be easilly disenfranchised are easy to come by. Here is a personal example. My brother was born and raised in PA where he graduated from HS and earned a degree at Temple. He was a professional musician and moved to Nashville at the age of 32. Five years later he was diagnosed with brain cancer and returned to PA for treatment and to live with our mother. He lived for another 3 years, but had this law been in effect at that time he would not have been able to register to vote in PA. He had a TN driver’s licence which was taken away because he had seizures. He could not get a PA licence because of the seizures. He had graduated in the mid 80s from college so he no longer had that ID. Having spent most of his adult life up to that point on the road as a musician, he had long ago lost his social security card. He could no longer work so he had no pay stub. He lived with our mother so he had no utilities or lease. His bank was in Nashville so that didn’t show a PA residence. Even though he had traveled to the Middle East and Mediteranean three times in the 1990s to perform for US troops, he traveled with the DOD so he never had a need for passport. He had a birth certificate but none of the other requisite documents. Had this law been in effect my brother, a PA resident for 35 of his 40 years of life, would have been disenfranchised.

        1. Longtime Wayne Resident

          You are wrong about the no charge for a non-license ID!!!!

          Since when does the state do anything that does not generate some kind of income. Come on!!!

        2. You can get one for free if you surrender your license. I know this because my mother did it when she lost her sight. Otherwise the fee is $13.50, hardly a burden.

      2. Poor John Doe will not be able to get a drivers license either.

        That is unless he gets cable and then has a utility bill. I presume Mr. Doe pays taxes and can show his tax return so only needs one type of B List id.

        This hypothetical is a little far afield. I say the ID law is overdue.

        1. Let me see if I have this straight: You are suggesting that, in order to exercise his Constitutional right to vote, John Doe, who does not have steady employment and is living hand-to-mouth, should sign up for cable and obligate himself to pay a monthly bill that he cannot afford? I’m curious — Do you work for Comcast?

          As for the drivers’ license, you are correct, John does not have the documents necessary to obtain one. Of course, that’s not a problem for him, since he cannot afford to buy, insure or maintain a car.

        2. Mr. Shapiro Esq.

          The Department of Motor Vechiles issues non-license IDs at no charge No need for a car or insurance.

        3. LWR: Please read the original comment in the chain (March 18 @ 8:49 a.m.). We are discussing a hypothetical voter who cannot obtain the free non-license ID because he does not possess the required documents.

          My March 20 post was responding to Mad Anthony’s comment in which he pointed out — correctly I might add — that because this hypothetical voter cannot obtain the free non-license ID, he ALSO cannot obtain a drivers’ license.

        4. If they can’t prodcuce the documentation to get a non-license ID, how can they register to vote in the first place? At some point you need to prove you are a citizen. New voters are already requied to provide ID.

        5. I am not a shill for comcast.

          My point was that there are document requirements to get a drivers license (or non license govt i.d.) that our hypothetically disenfranchised voter Mr. Doe would similarly fail. But having a utility bill (comcast, verizon, PECO, water bill . . . .) would solve his documentary shortcoming . . . . under the present regulations.

        6. LWR: All you need to register to vote is a social security number:

          First time voters are required by federal law — the Help America Vote Act (“HAVA”) — to provide ID. But there are more forms of acceptable ID under HAVA than there are under the new PA voter ID law. Indeed, under the prior PA law, which implemented HAVA, the following forms of ID (in addition to photo IDs) were acceptable for first time voters:



          (3) A FIREARM PERMIT;



          (6) A PAYCHECK;

          (7) A GOVERNMENT CHECK.

          Source: (see page 12-13)

          My hypothetical John Doe would have been able to vote as a first time voter under the previous PA law, but would not be able to vote under the new law.

        7. Mad Anthony: I did not mean to suggest you were a shill for Comcast. That was my (admittedly not very funny) attempt at humor.

          I explained from the beginning that what I was trying to do with this exercise was come up with a hypothetical voter who could not obtain the free ID card offered by PennDOT (and, yes, under the new law ID cards are free for those who cannot afford them). That’s why my hypothetical assumes that John Doe’s utilities are included in his rent and that he is not directly billed for them. Do I think there are many voters in PA who fit the profile of my hypothetical? No. But the point was to rebut the argument that I have heard some people make that the law could not disenfranchise even a single voter.

        8. I stand corrected with respect to my comment from 6:59 p.m. last night. Apparently, contrary to what I wrote, you do not even need a social security number to register to vote:

          “Are there any identification requirements to register to vote?

          The voter registration form requires the applicant’s Pennsylvania driver’s license number or, if the voter does not have a driver’s license, the last four digits of his or her Social Security Number. If neither of these is available, the applicant must write “None” in the appropriate box on the registration form.”


  7. I wonder if ithe bill includes a provision that you must present a photo ID when signing a candidate’s petition. And as far as registration fraud, most of PA’s registrations are done via motor/voter when you apply for or renew your driver’s license.

    Agree Steve. In all my 50 years voting here in Tredyffrin there’s been no voting fraud. Even the Committee of Seventy in Philadelphia agrees – no fraud.

  8. Have to admit, you put a lot of thought into this, I’m impressed with the time you spent on it.

    With something as complicated as you present, I fall back onto principle. You’ll always be able to find the one and or others that will slip through the crack. We’ll never be 100% in anything.

    Let’s use the ID to cash a check example. When a business, bank or other, asks me for my ID, which party is being protected? The business of course. If I’m not responsible enough to be able to produce an ID, the business will not extend to me the privilege to cash the check. The business protects its integrity, bottom line, at the expense of the individual.

    Same with our country. The country’s integrity has to be protected, sometimes at the expense of an individual. If an individual can not prove he is who he says he is, then, like cashing a check, he can not vote.

    The principle is the nation and it’s integrity, legitimacy, must be protected. America was founded by self reliant responsible people. Responsible people most often succeed, irresponsible ones often do not. Is it our responsibility to ensure every living breathing person can vote? I think not. You meet the standards, you vote. You don’t meet the standards, you don’t vote.

    1. The check cashing analogy does not work because you have a Constitutional right to vote, but you do not have a Constitutional right to get a check cashed. The ability to cash a check is a privilege extended to you by a private business that can be revoked at any time, for any reason or no reason, at the whim of the business owner. The right to vote, by contrast, is guaranteed to you by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

      That said, I appreciate your intellectual honesty. Your position, if I may take the liberty of attempting to paraphrase it, is that the Voter ID law is not perfect and could, in limited circumstances, prohibit a voter from exercising his or her right to vote. However, you argue, protecting the integrity of our democratic system is a trade-off sufficient to permit us to accept any such flaw in the law. While I may not agree with that position, at least it is intellectually honest. It recognizes that the Voter ID law does involve trade-offs, an acknowledgement you rarely hear from proponents of the law.

    1. I wont bother going to the internet to find an article from an equally partisan (though other side of the divide) publication with an article that says the opposite.

      Instead, on the disenfranchise/suppression/turnout argument I will refer back to joint Univ of Delaware / Univ of Nebraska study showing minority turnout increased after voter id law passed.

      1. I assume this is the study to which you are referring:

        If I am reading it correctly (relevant excerpt pasted below), the authors conclude that, while ID laws may well disenfranchise voters, that happens so infrequently that the impact of the disenfranchisement on voter turn-out is not statistically significant . But that still leaves me asking: How much disenfranchisement are we willing to accept? And how does the amount of disenfranchisement compare to the amount of fraud, if any, that the ID laws prevent?

        “At every level of analysis, and with multiple forms of data, we have consistently demonstrated that voter-identification laws appear to be a much smaller piece to the voting behavior puzzle than are factors such as the kinds of issues on a state ballot, the competitiveness of campaigns, the institutional structures of a particular election, socioeconomic factors, and individual-level motivational factors such as interest in politics. This is not to say that the rules of voting are unimportant or that there is no potential for disenfranchisement; rather our findings suggest that voter-ID laws have had no systematic effect on turnout thus far, and that some rules (voter-ID laws) do not affect turnout as much as others (same-day registration in Minnesota, a state with historically high turnout).”

        1. I have asked the same question in reverse: how much fraud are we willing to accept?

          This is an issue that is very obviously never going to make everyone happy and never going to be solved 100%.

          Fraud – any fraud – dilutes legitimate votes. Disenfranchisement does the same.

          I continue to be undecided on this, but see both arguments put forth.

          I guess the question is: if the state puts in the law to avoid fraud, are their efforts at making sure people get IDs enough? If they are, then no one should technically be disenfranchised.

          Again, a lot of questions on both sides.

  9. A Constitutional right does not mean we have the obligation to pave the way to the voting booth. We are not required to remove all requirements from the voting population. Again, as responsible citizens we exercise our rights in a responsible manner for the sake of the integrity of the system that provides us the freedom to vote. Corrupt that system and see how fast you lose that right on a whole sale basis.

    Good bouncing idas bak and forth.

  10. FTW refuses to “waste” her time considering a source she considers suspect. The Atlantic (Monthly) just happens to be in its 151st year of publication – since being founded by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Many of its articles deal with current events, but the magazine also publishes fiction and poetry, reviews books on a variety of topics, covers the arts and humanities and summarizes current studies in the hard and social sciences. The magazine caters to serious readers, and it does so from a fairly moderate perspective.

    A credible source of information? No doubt.
    Excerpted from the recent Atlantic article on voter ID referenced by commenter Lawrence Husick,

    “The burgeoning battles over state redistricting and voter ID laws… are all cynical expressions of the concerns many conservatives have about the future of the American electorate.

    “By 2020,…nonwhite voters should rise from a quarter of the 2008 electorate to one third. In 30 years, “nonwhites will outnumber whites.”

    “Which is why “whites,” and especially white men, seem so determined this election cycle to make it harder for nonwhites to exercise their right to vote.”

    You can do the math. Four convictions for voter fraud in Pennsylvania since 2004, with over 20 million votes cast. As Andrew Cohen, the article’s author laments: “You can be stupid and vote in America. You can be drunk and vote in America. You can be mentally insane and vote in America. You could vote in America for Snooki or Rod Blagojevich. Or, like tens of millions of your fellow citizens, you can choose not to vote at all.”

    “But if you don’t have the means to get a driver’s license, or if you cannot afford the time and money it takes to get certain other forms of government ID, you are out of luck? What a great country this is.”


    1. you have to be able to identify yourself! Accurately! Why this is so hard to fathom I don’t know. Maybe fraud is good for one interest group. Ah whats a couple of hundred votes. Geez

      1. FF,I agree. But first time voters at a poll DO identify themselves. And PA law has always allowed a variety of documents to serve as proof of identity and residence. After that initial identification, a voter’s signature must match the original.

        But logical people consider the data showing almost no cases of voter impersonation nationwide. They acknowledge the high-risk/low-reward prospect of impersonating a voter.( Who wants to chance going to prison for 5 years for casting ONE vote?)
        And logical people conclude that PA’s new ID law effectively limits access for the poor, who tend to vote Democratic.

        Now I’m sure many people would have far less of a problem with an ID requirement if it weren’t limited to a federal, state or municipal -issued ID. Almost everyone has some form of identification. When the law is strictly limited to lower eligibility among those with the fewest resources to pay for needed documents and find transportation to a government location (DMV or courthouse), then it smells of politics is at work.

        Also, if PA were to allow for a reasonable period of time to educate voters and help them acquire ID’s and the documents needed to apply for ID’s, an ID requirement would be viewed differently.

        But Corbett and his party wanted to make sure HB 934 was in effect for the November election – for the express purpose of suppressing the Democratic vote – especially in Philadelphia. The governor is on record telling Republican Party activists they need to “hold down the vote in Philadelphia because those people have too much power.”

        This bill smells. Let the court challenges begin.

        1. >>FF,I agree. But first time voters at a poll DO identify themselves. And PA law has always allowed a variety of documents to serve as proof of identity and residence. After that initial identification, a voter’s signature must match the original.<<

          Isn't the notion of no voter impersonation nationwide a bit like saying conspiracies don't exist? If the fraud is orchestrated (fake or dead voters for example), isn't it likely that it's fraud from the start? I'm asking. I really don't see why people– especially in this country where people always are looking for an edge — don't think fraud exists.

  11. Pattye,

    According to the Committee of Seventy, you can avoid having to present a photo ID by voting absentee ballot:

    As stated by the Committee of Seventy, you can obtain an absentee ballot merely by providing the last four digits of your Social Security Number to prove your identity. (Not a copy of the Social Security Card, just your last four).

    I have checked a number of other sources and they all confirm the information that the Committee of Seventy has posted on their Web Site.

    Thus, voting by Absentee Ballot appears to be a simple work around to those who do not have photo ID and do not want to got to PennDOT to obtain a free state issued nondrivers license photo ID.

    Hopefully, this information will put Mr. Shapiro’s concerns to rest.


    1. It does not put my concerns to rest.

      Absentee ballots only can be requested by an elector “who expects to be or is absent from the municipality of his residence because his duties, occupation or business require him to be elsewhere during the entire period the polls are open for voting on the day of any primary or election” or “who because of illness or physical disability is unable to attend his polling place or operate a voting machine.” 25 P.S. § 3146.1(j) and (k). So, if you do not expect to be absent and are not ill, you may not request an absentee ballot.

      Moreover, if an elector who submits an absentee ballot is “in the municipality of his residence on the day for holding the primary or election . . . or . . . shall have recovered from his illness or physical disability sufficiently to permit him to present himself at the proper polling place . . . [the] absentee ballot cast by such elector shall be declared void” and the elector shall be “permitted to vote upon presenting himself at his regular polling place.” 25 P.S. § 3146.6.

      Indeed, the application for an absentee ballot requires you to certify that you either expect to be away on election day or are ill, and specifically says: “WARNING – IF YOU ARE ABLE TO VOTE IN PERSON ON ELECTION DAY, YOU MUST GO TO YOUR POLLING PLACE, VOID YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT AND VOTE THERE.”


      No provision in the Election Code permits a person who lacks ID to request or vote an absentee ballot for that reason alone.

      1. So just hypothetically, you believe that every single absentee ballot cast meets the criteria? No fraud or intent to defraud there?

        This ACLU mentality of not disenfranchsing people is noteworthy and laudable — but let’s stop pretending there is no fraud. Local poll people no doubt adhere to the signature matching requirements etc, but do we really believe in heavily party-controlled precincts throughout this country that the “machine” isn’t calling the shots? Who would object to the ID — and I agree with FTW — I’m not sure it needed to be a law as I see both sides, but this outcry condemning it is so much louder than I can understand.

        1. Do I suspect that some people vote absentee even though they are in the municipality on election day? Sure. My point, though, is that suggesting that a voter who does not have and cannot obtain ID (such as my hypothetical voter) can vote if he is willing to violate the law relating to absentee ballots is no answer.

  12. thinking about “no evidence of voter fraud” unless the fraud is so good that it hasn’t been caught. Isn’t that possible?

    1. Isn’t the notion of no voter impersonation nationwide a bit like saying conspiracies don’t exist? If the fraud is orchestrated (fake or dead voters for example), isn’t it likely that it’s fraud from the start? I’m asking. I really don’t see why people– especially in this country where people always are looking for an edge — don’t think fraud exists

    2. Think “no evidence of voter fraud” because there already are safeguards that exist that prevent such type of fraud from being very effective anyone – even IF you could get someone to take the quite substantial risk of doing so. Think about it. In order to really effect an election you would have to convince I would say thousands to tens of thousands but will go with hundreds of individuals to take the chance that they can impersonate someone else in order to vote. Then those individuals would have to do one of several things – 1. find a person they know will not vote learn how they sign their name and be able to reasonably mimic that, go to the both – pass through the observers and the poll workers who may or may not know person A and vote facing very harsh penalties for doing so (I don’t know about you but if I am putting my neck on the line like that – you’d have to pay me an awful lot of money). 2. Register under a false name or names (much more efficient as one person can vote many times. All you have to do is establish some kid of proof of residence or manufacture such, present it along with other forms of manufactured identifications and then you have an easy road to voting. Whew!

      Can you see why there would be very very little voter fraud going on. It is difficult, risky and not worth it. Election fraud is cheaper and easier if you work to suppress the vote in some manner.
      If the people who are not likely to vote for you don’t get to vote then you save yourself a whole lot of hassle and money. Set up as many obstacles as you can that to make it possible to vote – limit the number of polling places in high density locations – for every person who is willing to wait several hours to vote I am sure there are many others who bag it. Or you can attempt to adjust the counts through simple errors – easy to do probably harder to pull it off without complete control of the system and high risk but still easier than getting 100’s of individuals to vote illegally.

      I think misinformation is a biggie – make sure you have a company robocalling the population not likely to vote for you and tell them to vote in a different place or a different day etc. Every election year you will read about several cases of this happening as well as seeing prosecutions and convictions for similar type escapades (but not usually the politician who benefits from the action).

      Or you could try intimidation – as mentioned by someone above – with the “black panthers” trying to intimidate voters – turned out it was 2 guys who claimed they were black panthers and it was rather lame but it is intimidation.

      Or what about some old fashioned pay – I’ll give you $20 to vote for my candidate – elevates the risk as you know people can’t keep things quiet and what about that guy that didn’t get the memo and learns that you paid all his neighbors.

      Or you can try to eliminate as many votes as you can by legally questioning them etc etc

      Bottom line is that I believe we see very little voter fraud because it has little value and little chance of success unless done on a massive scale. In that sense it is easier to falsify an absentee ballot and these do get caught but usually turn out to be someone (erroneously) thinking they can submit a ballot for an absent family member so there ends up being few convictions – once again the scale is not worth it. Nope much easier and more effective and legally grayer ways of effecting voter turnout and outcome than doing it one by one in a high risk low reward method like voter fraud.

      1. good points but I just cant get by the fraud that occurs, ok elsewhere where dead folks vote, people vote twice, etc. I am not in favor of suppressing the vote but I am in favor of tightening up the security by as fail safe as possible the identification process. I often wonder why even when I affix my signature to the sign in form no one asks me for ID. It just seems logical to do so.

        1. I understand. You need to understand that the scenarios you describe are mostly anecdotal and do not occur with any significant frequency. And in the studies I have seen, when it does occur on those rare occasions, the vast majority of cases reflect someone erroneously believing they can submit an absentee ballot on behalf of a loved one. This of course, will not be resolved by requiring a picture ID.

          I think the idea that there are even a few people voting in place of dead people is mostly from reports that some State voter rolls include deceased people. That doesn’t mean that those people are voting – it means that the voter list needs to be updated – which is the process by which the discover is made in the first place.

  13. The timing of this is terrible, and I’m very concerned about the impacts on students as well as the elderly citizens who don’t drive. As I understand it, college/university photo ID’s count, but need to have an expiration date – Drexel, Penn State, others do not ( How many students are going to show up to the polls in November thinking they have adequate ID, then be turned away if there’s no expiration date (other than this Daily Pennsylvanian article I haven’t seen the date part stressed)? What about students who go to school outside of PA and don’t have a license? Figuring this all out on election day is going to be a nightmare if a court challenge doesn’t forestall its implementation.

  14. Chester County Voter Services emailed me and all other poll workers this Voter ID information handout, which was prepared by the PA Department of State:

    At the primary in April, we will be required to ask for ID. If the voter does not have proper ID, he or she can still vote in the primary, but we will be required to give that voter a copy of the handout explaining what kind of ID the voter be required to show in November. The handout notes that all IDs must contain an expiration date. I’m not sure how effective that will be, given that the turnout for the primary likely will be much lighter than for the general election.

  15. Glad to see the details are being spelled out, particularly for student ID’s, although it’s still disturbing how little thought seems to have been put into who will be affected. I also find it a little absurd, that for a student ID “a sticker with an expiration date can be affixed to an ID and is acceptable as long as the sticker is issued by the accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning.” Seems like a pragmatic solution for a law that was implemented too quickly, but how does one determine the provenance of a sticker? And I wonder what PA colleges and universities think of having their ID’s serving as proof of voter identity? Seems like a lot of pressure, particularly for non-state institutions.

  16. Here are additional voter ID publications from the Commonwealth:

    This one includes a flowchart for use in determining whether an ID is valid:

    This one includes samples of various IDs issued by the Commonwealth. I am glad they sent this, because I otherwise would have had no idea that lead and asbestos certification cards qualify as proper ID:

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