Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Kampf Responds to Constitutionality of Voter ID Law and Claims No Financial Burden on Local/County Budgets to Implement

The passage of the photo voter ID bill earlier this month by state legislators made Pennsylvania the 16th state to adopt a strict voter identification policy and the ninth state to do so in the past year. The law requires voters to produce a Pennsylvania driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID, such as a US passport, military ID or county/municipal employee ID. The state will also accept college ID or personal care home IDs, as long as they are current and include an expiration date.

Pennsylvania’s photo voter ID law will not be in effect for the primary next but will be in effect in November, when Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are at stake. Prior to the passage of the voter ID bill, I posted ‘PA Voter ID bill: costly and unnecessary… how about unconstitutional?’ on March 8. The post included an email sent from attorney and Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-2 district, Steve Shapiro to Rep Warren Kampf indicating concern that the photo voter identification legislation, House Bill 934 violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Steve received a response from Kampf and kindly shared the following information to post on Community Matters:

I received the letter linked below in the mail today from Rep. Kampf responding to my email. It does not address the issue I raised — my concern that the voter ID law violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (as opposed to the U.S. Constitution, which the letter does discuss) — and I suspect it is largely a form letter sent to all who wrote him about the bill. However, since I published my email to Rep. Kampf, I think it only fair that I publish his response:

I leave the constitutionality battle of the voter identification legislation to the attorneys, but I was interested in Kampf’s response on the issue of ‘cost’ for implementation. The following excerpt from Kampf’s letter, addresses the expense to implement the law:

” … Another issue that has been brought up is the cost of this law. I am mindful of any increases on our already over-burdened budget. The Pennsylvania Department of State intends to utilize Help America Vote Act funding (federal funding available to the Commonwealth) to fund the cost of the dissemination provision in calendar year 2012. The estimated citizen population in the Commonwealth is 9,642,277 as of January 2012. According to PennDOT, 9,552,700 adults have a PennDOT issued ID or 99.07% of the citizen population. Applying that percentage to all registered voters (8,8186,052 as of March 12) would total a potential 76,048 IDs. Not all of these would be paid for by the General Fund if some of those individuals could afford to pay for the identification themselves, or they did not need it because of the other forms of identification now permitted. Further, the Governor has pledged to work with the Aging Office and PennDOT to make sure those who need an identification card have speedy access to one.

We do not believe this legislation will have adverse impact on local or county budgets. The Department of State will handle the 2012 dissemination requirement and indicates that they are recommending that counties publish the new requirements in their required newspaper proclamations before each election, therefore creating no new additional costs to the counties… ‘

Although Kampf states that the voter ID legislation will not have an adverse impact on local and county budgets, estimates for implementation and education have circulated that indicate actual costs will be in the millions. The nonpartisan Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center put the estimate to implement as high as $11 million based on the experiences of other states. If Kampf is correct in his assessment and local municipal budgets will not affected, how will the state absorb the implementation costs? What programs or departments will need to be cut (or minimally reduced) in the state budget to offset the expense to implement voter identification?

In a difficult fiscal environment, when the state is facing making record cuts to education, higher education and other crucial programs, where will the money come from to pay for the implementation of the voter ID system? As a concerned taxpayer, I want to believe that Kampf is correct in his assessment and that there will be no financial burden to implement this legislation. However, as a realist, I don’t see how implementation of the voter ID process is possible without an attached price tag.

Setting aside the implementation cost debate of the voter ID legislation, what about large legal bills when the state is required to defend the voter ID legislation. Lawsuits over the constitutionality of the voter ID law are almost certain, which translates into substantial costs and exposure for Pennsylvania taxpayers.

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  1. Rep. Kampf states the statistic that the percentage of African-Amercan votes in Georgia rose from 2004 to 2008, despite the enactment of a voter ID law. Hmmmm….let’s see, what was happening in 2004? George W. Bush ran for election, against a caucasian opponent, who failed to inspire. In 2008? Could it be that McCain failed to inspire against a true African-American candidate and that minority and youth voter registrations broke every record? Just saying’

  2. I don’t know why the GOP has been so focused on preventing people from voting. You would think that they would work harder to show how their platform can benefit people so that they will vote for them instead. Of course, we have lived with their economic policies for most of the past decade and we see where that got us. Lots of rich people getting richer and poor people getting poorer.

  3. Has anyone seen a real analysis of who the 1% are who don’t have PennDOT issued ID? Because they are automatically disenfranchised by this bill unless they have alternative ID, it seems to me the state should have a strategy to make sure their outreach efforts will reach these people, but do they know the breakdown of who they are? And has anyone read anything about why an estimate of the national average of people without ID is about 10%, but PA’s number is only 1%? (I realize different groups may have differing agendas, but I’m looking for a numbers-based explanation)

  4. We truly have fallen down the rabbit hole. In an attempt to add legitimacy to our electoral process, you worry about people that can’t verify they are citizens? How about a little personal responsibility? It’s not the job of the state to pave the way to the voting booth for everyone. The law bends over backwards in an attempt to include as many as possible. We should help, but we’re not nannies.

    1. But the “legitimacy” we are adding is not needed. What are we preventing with this bill? Nothing that isn’t already prevented. So where do we have potential for problems? You could look at absentee ballots but even those are caught and are fairly minimal. So the question for me is why would we do this if it really doesn’t address an issue that exists except primarily in fantasy.

      And from a party that simultaneously wants to mandate medical procedures that are unnecessary at the same time claiming that the President is trying to dictate medical treatment. Talk about rabbit holes.

      1. That is purely a matter of opinion. Go look up the fiasco that occured in Milwaukee in 2004.

        This is common sense. I absolutely do not buy into the fact that people cannot have ID’s. You need an ID to do almost anything these days.

        Nonsense. This is a great idea and will ensure that we DO NOT have future problems.

        As for the cost, give me a break. The same people who love the healthcare bill which will cost us $1.7T are going to question a cost of a few million to ensure that our elections are legitimate?

        The reaction from the left hardens my stance even more. Go get an ID.

        1. Milwaukee 2004. You do realize that the numbers that finally came out of the 2004 election amounted to 7 substantiated cases of ineligible voters in Milwaukee due to felony convictions. In the rest of the State there turned out to be some 8 other substantiated cases – half of them were absentee ballots and the remaining were felony convictions, a foreign national and a 17 year old. You do realize that exactly zero of these would be affected by presenting an ID. You do realize that these 19 votes amount to such a miniscule percentage of the nearly 3 million votes cast. And again none of them would have been prevented by this law. But then again you didn’t look beyond allegations that ended up not carrying any weight or you strictly get your information from conspiracy sites.

          I think the money we spend on elections already do a very good job of ensuring the legitimacy of the vote. But I don’t really think you care about that really – you’d rather just choose to be oppositional since people you appear to not like have an issue with this law. For me, I would be supportive of this law if there were any legitimate reason for it. But study after study after study shows very little fraud in terms of impersonation and only a very few cases of voter fraud which would not be addressed under this law. This tells me that the safeguards that have been added since the 60’s have done a good job in making voter impersonation a difficult and unrewarding means of fixing an election.

    2. The question being addressed by the Voter ID bill is not about “you worry about people that can’t verify they are citizens?” It’s entirely about solving the stated concern of voter impersonation at the polls. The entire mechanism is aimed at confirming that a voter signing in to vote is who he says he is. In fact, most of the acceptable forms of photo ID are legitimately available to non-citizens. The only one that also confirms citizenship is the passport, but the others (driver’s license, college ID to name a couple) have nothing to do with citizenship.

      Verification of citizenship is an issue related to registration, not the actual voting on Election Day.

    3. Bob… “nannies” Now there is the right word. Bingo. For so much that is happening in our country.. “the nanny state”.

      get a photo ID. End of story,

  5. BTW, I received the same letter in response to my plea that Rep. Kampf break with his party and vote based on the facts.

    I’m not sure where Mr. Kampf got his numbers, but the U.S. Census lists the following numbers:

    PA population: 12,274,886

    PA population under age 18: 2,700,475

    PA population over age 18: 9,574,411

    Note: Kampf states that 9,552,700 adults have a PennDot issued ID.

    Over age 65 (15.4%): 1,890,332

    African-American (10.8%): 1,325,688

    Persons (of all ages) living below the poverty line in PA: 12.4%:1,522,086

    The likelihood that 99.07% of all adults in PA have valid Penn Dot issued ID’s (or in the case of seniors, expired ID’s of no more than 1 year by November 6, 2012) is nil, given results of surveys done in PA and nationally by numerous organizations.

    However, If I understand the updated information on the DMV site, persons without the required documents to obtain a state issued ID may sign an affirmation that says they are who they say they are under penalty of law, and they will be issued an official ID.


    “If a voter does not POSSESS PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION FOR VOTING PURPOSES as defined at section 102(z.5)(2) of the Pennsylvania Election Code (25 P.S. § 2602(z.5)(2)) and requires proof of identification for voting purposes, the following applies:

    You must declare under oath or affirmation by completing the Oath/ Affirmation Voter ID form that you do not possess any of the following forms of identification….”

    Here is the Affirmation form:

    To the JOE’s reading this, is this the case? Can anyone swear to his identity and residency and be issued a state ID?

    1. As I understand it (having nothing to do with with my position as JOE but just from reading your link), the standard $13.50 fee for a photo ID card will be waived for those who complete the Affirmation. But signing the Affirmation does not, by itself, entitle you to a photo ID — all it does it waive the fee. You still have to provide all of the necessary paperwork (social security card, birth certificate, proof of residency, etc.) to get the free ID.

  6. I think the letter talked a little about constitutionality in that it referenced the Supreme Court ruling on an Indiana law and noted that PA’s law is modeled on that one. Depending on how closely “modeled” (i.e. is is the same?) would probably give us more information re: constitutionality.

    If PA’s law is basically duplication, legal challenges may not be as great because there is precedent on the issue.

    The cost information is interesting. As someone said, the numbers keep coming up differently – I wonder what the real figure is, or if it will ever really be known.

    1. As I wrote in a previous thread, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Indiana’s voter ID law does not violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (equal protection). That case did not address whether Indiana’s law violates Article VII, Section 1 the Pennsylvania Constitution. Indeed, why would anyone argue that a law that applies only in Indiana violated the Pennsylvania Constitution?

      The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court might some day find that PA’s voter ID law does not violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it is similar to Indiana’s law says nothing about whether PA’s law violates an entirely different provision of the PA Constitution. In other words, the PA voter ID could pass muster under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and, at the same time, violate Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

      So I respectfully disagree that the reference to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Indiana law addresses the issue I raised in my email.

  7. I don’t think it even matters what the total possible cost is. The point is there will be a cost, and at a time when funds from every source are stretched in every direction.

    The Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002, has as its stated aim:
    “To establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections, and for other purposes.”

    Since the PA County Commissioners Association lobbied against the voter ID bill, I’m pretty sure they would have had different priorities for the money. They insisted there was no significant voter fraud, commonwealth-wide. Don’t we all want more local control?

    1. Fantastic! Then you are going to be OK when Obamacare is overturned due to “cost”? There are a million programs that we can do away with then.

  8. When you say local control, that does mean ward leaders in the city as well as poll watchers in the burbs. More local control? Not sure.

  9. I think it is ridiculous, and always have, that I can walk into a voting location, state my name, and vote. There is absolutely no good reason why a person is not required to show an ID at a voting location.

    Maybe people should (for once) put the partisan bickering aside.

  10. Regarding the estimate that 99% of voters in PA have PennDOT ID, it appears to be based only on the number of people of voting age in PA versus the number of driver’s licenses issued. When asked about overcounting due to people with multiple licenses, who’ve moved out of state or died, and people who aren’t citizens or otherwise eligible to vote, Department of State Spokesman Ron Ruman told PoliticsPA, “We really think the numbers are pretty good. There could be some that fall into each of these categories, but we don’t think it’s substantial.” ( “We don’t think” is not at all comforting to me – if this is really all the 1% is based on, I can’t believe that this flimsy a number would be the official state estimate.

  11. I am willing to drive people to the DMV to get ID’s. I will even take a day off of work. Just let me know and we can arrange it off-line.

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