UPDATED: ID Now Required to Vote
The governor signed the bill into law Thursday.
The state House on Wednesday approved legislation that requires voters to present identification at the polls.
The legislation, House Bill 934, requires each voter to present proof of identification at every election.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law Thursday.
“I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote,’’ Corbett said. “It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.’’
The law goes into effect immediately, but the photo ID will not be required for the primary election next month. However, voters will be reminded at that time that a photo ID will be required for November’s general election.
Proponents of the bill, such as House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, lauded the bill, saying it will “strengthen voter identification and enfranchise all voters.”
The state will provide non-driver identification cards for those who need it, free of charge.
According to Turzai, a uniform voter identification requirement “assures all voters will be treated equally and fairly and will prevent some voters from being singled out for identification while other voters are allowed to vote without identifying themselves.”
But state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil Township, disagreed.
White voted no on the bill—saying that several flaws with the legislation jumped out during floor debate.
Take the issue of disabled veterans and their identification, for example.
He said because of technical requirements in the legislation regarding acceptable forms of identification, the type now issued to disabled veterans “would not qualify under the bill.”
“It could actually have the unintended consequence of disenfranchising voters who fought and shed blood for our country,” he said.
White added: "Voting is a fundamental, constitutional right, and if we're going to do anything that infringes on that right, we need to make sure no one will be disenfrachised. This bill fails at that spectacularly."
And he said that while proponents of the bill have said the legislation "isn't about the 2012 election, the fact the majority rammed it through after acknowledging that there were flaws certainly makes you wonder whether this was more about politics than policy."
State Rep. Brandon Neuman said he voted no on the bill—as did all House Democrats and three Republicans—for many reasons, one of them financial.
“I voted no because it’s going to cost $11 million to implement,” Neuman, D-North Strabane, said, adding that there isn’t even any evidence that voter fraud is happening at the polls.
As for the "free" identification cards?
"It's not free—it's taxpayer dollars," he said.
Neuman added that, if there is fraud in the system, it would be in the registration process, not the voting process, and he said that’s what legislation should address.
“It would stop the fraud, if there is any fraud, where it begins,” Neuman said.
He also said it puts poll workers in a position to not only ask for identification, but also spot fake IDs—something they aren't trained to do.
"This bill sounds so innocent, but it's not," he said, adding that similar laws in other states have been challenged and overturned in the courts.
The state Senate passed the bill last week, with state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, voting no.