Breaking Down PA’s New Voter ID Law

Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is expected to leave thousands without a vote in the upcoming presidential election. While we’ve shied away from covering this obviously important story in recent weeks, we feel like now would be a good time to break down the ongoing controversy. So here it is, everything you need to know about PA’s new voter ID law.

The details of the measure, outlined here, essentially mandate that voters show a photo ID with a current expiration date. This includes a valid US passport, a PA driver’s license, or a US military ID. Voters who do not have one of the listed types of IDs are eligible for “alternative PennDOT identification” that can be acquired at a PennDOT Driver License Center. Also, PA driver’s licenses and non-driver identification are acceptable within one year past their expiration.

This set of legislation is part of a string of laws implemented by Republicans who’ve raised concerns about possible voter fraud. But, as expected, the new rules have led to an escalating debate between parties.

Statistics presented earlier this month point to a whopping 759,000 registered Pennsylvanian voters that could possibly be disenfranchised in the upcoming election because they do not have an acceptable photo ID. Amounting to roughly 9.2% of the population, such estimates carry massive implications for the voter pool in Pennsylvania, which is mostly considered a swing state.

Experts maintain that those affected are generally minorities and the elderly, both of which typically lean left. So, Democratic Party leaders have pounced on the new law, taking cases to federal court. In the meantime, Republicans have fired back, arguing that such enactments have actually increased voter turnout in some populations in addition to preventing corrupt practices during the election.

PA House majority leader Mike Turzai is among other Democrats who have publicly denounced the law as an attempt by Republicans to favor their own candidate. Under similar criticism, Republican governor Corbett has recently taken heat over his decision to not request the Legislature to hold off from enacting the law for this upcoming election.

As some voters continue to bite back in frustration, a hearing in Commonwealth Court has been scheduled for July 25th to deliberate on whether the bill is in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitution.

Now, here’s why all of this matters: Last presidential election, Obama won the popular vote by 11%. And while recent PA polls show that Obama leads Romney by 6%, it’s becoming quite clear that those 9% who may be turned away from the polls, could very well decide the election for PA, if not the entire country.

Sources: VotesPA, Washington Whispers, Democratic Underground, Fox 43, Delco Times

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Olga Hajishengallis

A Penn State undergrad, Olga can be found marveling at antique stores wherever she can find one. When she is not doing that, she occupies her time by admiring international tennis players on TV, talking to her twin sister in Greeklish about all things psychology or scanning news and entertainment sites at least once every waking hour.

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