Pennsylvania ID Law May Affect Million Voters, State Says

More than 1 million people may be stopped from casting ballots because of a Pennsylvania law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, a state official said at a trial challenging the measure.

About 1.5 million prospective voters lack the type of identification needed to cast ballots in November’s election, David Burgess, deputy secretary for planning and service delivery at Pennsylvania’s Department of State, testified yesterday in state court in Harrisburg.

Backed by Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, the state’s law requires voters to have a driver’s license, state ID or an acceptable alternative such as a military ID, to cast a ballot in the presidential election. The law was enacted in March as similar measures in Republican-led states drew criticism from Democrats, who say they disenfranchise minority, poor and young voters.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May with 10 Pennsylvania voters as plaintiffs. The group is asking Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson to block the law pending a final court decision. Pennsylvania is one of nine states that passed strict laws requiring a photo ID to vote. A weeklong hearing in the case began July 25.

More than 889,000 names on voter registration lists couldn’t be matched to records of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which issues photo IDs. Another 574,630 voters had expired PennDOT identification, Burgess said.

The case is Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 330 MD 2012, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg).

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