Citywide coalition forms to combat voter ID bill, lawsuit expected

Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID bill passed the House of Representatives today and Gov. Tom Corbett announced that he will sign it into law around 6 p.m.

The bill requires all voters to show photo identification every time they cast a ballot. Critics say the additional layer of regulation unfairly affects the poor, minorities, seniors and disabled and will discourage those demographics, many of them Democrats, from voting.

“While I’m disappointed that the state House has continued this march
toward voter disenfranchisement, the battle is not over,” State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, Democratic chair of the state government committee said in a statement. “The constitutional right to vote is too important to institute disingenuous
hurdles at the ballot box. Period.”

“But if the governor chooses
to sign this flawed piece of legislation, there will be a lawsuit filed
on behalf of those voters, who, though today eligible, tomorrow would
not have their vote counted once HB 934 is enacted.”

Political watchdog Committee of Seventy and former city managing director Joe Certaine held a planning meeting yesterday for a new citywide coalition that will conduct a nonpartisan campaign to educate Philadelphia voters about the bill and the new requirements it establishes.

Participants included Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., AFSCME DC33 president Pete Matthews and representatives from the Pennsylvania chapter of the NAACP, the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the state ACLU. Each member of Philadelphia’s City Council has also designated a liaison to work with the group.

“If necessary, we’ll drive voters to PennDOT offices to get ID,” Committee of Seventy president Zack Stalberg said. “No one should be denied the right to vote because they lack an acceptable voter ID.”

Though the law will take effect immediately, photo ID will not be required in the state’s presidential primary on April 24. The registration deadline for that election is March 26.

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