About 9 Percent of PA Voters Don't Have Proper ID to Vote
The PA Department of State released figures this week after comparing PennDOT and voter registration databases, including information for Allegheny, Washington and Butler counties.
In Butler, Allegheny and Washington counties alone, there are 117,909 registered voters who do not have a PennDOT ID number that will be required to vote in the fall general election, according to a Pennsylvania Department of State comparison of voter registration rolls and PennDOT ID databases.
In March, state lawmakers approved a new voter ID bill (House Bill 934) that requires each voter to present proof of identification at every election. Sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the law is scheduled to take effect for the Nov. 6 general election.
The law has been controversial as Democrats have challenged that it will disenfranchise voters without proper IDs while Republicans say it will fight voter fraud.
The database comparison provided this week by the Department of State shows that 91 percent of Pennsylvania's 8,232,928 registered voters have PennDOT ID numbers.
Of the 758,939 voters who could not be matched between the Department of State and PennDOT databases, 22 percent, or 167,566, are inactive voters, most of whom have not voted since 2007.
When looking at information for Western PA Patch sites, the database shows that of the 99,218 voters without PennDOT IDs in Allegheny County, 73,791 are active voters and 25,427 are inactive. In June, by a 2-1 vote, Allegheny County’s election board decided to file a lawsuit challenging the voter ID law.
Of Washington County's 11,246 voters without PennDOT IDs, 7,723 are active voters and 3,523 are inactive.
Butler County has 7,445 voters with no IDs, of which 6,276 are active and 1,169 are inactive.
All voters identified as not having a PennDOT ID number will be contacted by letter this summer, reminding them of the new voter ID law, what IDs are acceptable for voting purposes and how to get a free ID if they don't have one.
County election directors will also be provided with the names and addresses of voters in their counties who did not match any record in the PennDOT database.
“This thorough comparison of databases confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November,” said Carol Aichele, secretary of the Commonwealth. “This comparison takes into account only voters with PennDOT IDs, and does not include voters who may have any of the other various acceptable forms of ID.”
Such other acceptable forms include identification from accredited Pennsylvania colleges or universities, Pennsylvania care facilities, military identification, valid U.S. passports, other photo identification issued by the federal or Pennsylvania government, or employee identification issued by the federal, Pennsylvania, or a county or municipal government.
All identification used for voting must have an expiration date and be current, except for Pennsylvania driver's licenses or non-driver photo identification, which are valid for voting purposes one year past their expiration. Retired military identification with an indefinite expiration date is also valid for voting purposes.
State Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane, 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 and that "free" identification cards are provided with taxpayer dollars.
The law has continued to be a point of contention between the Republican state lawmakers who support it and Democrats who oppose it.
Speaking at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in Hershey on June 23, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, was listing the accomplishments of the state House and Senate, when he pointed to the new Voter ID law.
"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done," Turzai said. "First pro-life legislation—abortion facility regulations—in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
Democratic opponents posted video of his remark, saying it showed a political motivation behind the bill.