New Castle News

John K. Manna

March 10, 2012

John K. Manna: State GOP pushes legislation to solve non-problem

NEW CASTLE — To the best of my knowledge, there was no evidence of voter fraud in last November’s election in Pennsylvania.

In fact, I can’t recall that any fraud has occurred over the last several years.

To be clear, I’m talking about people attempting to vote illegally at the polls.

Nonetheless, the state Senate passed a bill this week to require voters to show photo identification when they vote. The measure goes back to the House where it originated and is expected to be approved and then sent to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

The bill passed mainly along party lines, although three Republicans joined Democratic senators in voting against it. When the bill passed the House last year, no Democrats voted for it there either.

Voters will be asked for identification in the April 24 primary, but it won’t be required until the November election. They will have to produce an ID issued by the state or federal governments, state public or private institution of higher learning or a state care facility.

Speaking in favor of the legislation, Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele said the reason people don’t have confidence “is because they think there’s fraud.”

No, what people don’t have confidence in are politicians who they believe aren’t acting in the best interests of the state or the country, but only thinking of themselves.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania says that requiring poll workers to check photo IDs will make election day lines longer and create voter confusion.

The indication is that the legislators didn’t confer with local officials — those who are actually involved in conducting elections — as to the impact the bill will have.

One such individual is Ed Allison, Lawrence County’s elections director. Back in the fall before the House voted on the bill, he said the measure would increase the workload for election boards and will cause delays.

He also cites the section of the bill dealing with voters who won’t have a photo ID with them. They will be allowed to vote by a provisional ballot. However, those individuals will have six days to appear at the courthouse and show a photo ID.

Under current law, voters don’t have to show up at the courthouse. If it is determined the county made an error, the vote is counted. But if it’s determined the person isn’t registered, the vote isn’t counted. It’s that simple.

Allison said with the six-day delay and the possibility that a whole bunch of provisional ballots need to be verified, it makes the reporting of results in close races on election night “dubious at best.”

So, a law to correct a problem that nobody can really say exists, could create more problems at the local level.

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