Solobay: Voter ID Goes from Bad Idea to Embarrassment
“In the end this circus will probably end up millions over budget,” state Sen. Tim Solobay said. “But, like everything else with voter ID, nobody seems to know.”
Solobay’s comments come in the wake of five days of Commonwealth Court testimony that revealed a "stunning lack of preparation and knowledge on the part of Pennsylvania officials only 12 weeks before national elections."
“This was a bad idea and now we’re seeing a bad idea badly implemented,” Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said. “It’s embarrassing. Reports from the court testimony this week are being broadcast across the country and have made Pennsylvania a laughingstock.”
In an hour of testimony "marked by sarcasm and humor," Solobay said, Secretary of State Carol Aichele insisted that 99 percent of Pennsylvanians have a valid photo ID, in clear contradiction with news releases by her department and the sworn testimony of staffers.
On further questioning, Aichele said she didn’t agree with the analysis of her staff before admitting, “We don’t know.”
“We have our phones buzzing with concerned voters who have serious questions and our elections officials are disputing each other under oath,” Solobay said. “They might think this is some kind of joke, but it’s not funny.”
While the state’s top election official testified under oath that 99 percent of voters had proper ID, her department was mailing three quarters of a million letters to registered voters warning them that they may be disqualified from this year’s election, Solobay said. They included a state representative who has served in the Legislature for more than 20 years.
The news comes just more than a month after the governor signed a budget that cut millions of dollars from human service programs that support community programs for Pennsylvanians with mental and physical disabilities.
“The administration can’t find the money to help the disabled while it’s blowing millions playing Keystone Cops with the elections,” Solobay said.
During debate over the bill, supporters of the voter ID requirement predicted its cost would be nominal but, but nearly four months later, Solobay said officials still don’t know the size of the problem.
Solobay said his staff has made numerous attempts to distribute guidelines to address voter questions, but have had to recall information because election officials keep changing the requirements.
“In the end this circus will probably end up millions over budget,” Solobay said. “But, like everything else with voter ID, nobody seems to know.”