Republican state senators put Pennsylvania on the path Wednesday to becoming the 16th state to require voters to show certain photo identification before their ballots are counted, after a contentious debate during which Democrats called it an attempt to suppress votes by the party’s traditional supporters in November’s presidential election.
Labor unions, counties, civil liberties advocates, labor unions, the AARP and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also objected to the bill, which passed the Republican-controlled chamber, 26-23, after several hours of debate.
Three Republicans joined unanimous Democratic opposition to the bill.
It has the support of Gov. Tom Corbett and it is expected to receive approval within days from the state House, which passed a stricter version of the bill last year.
State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, objected to the measure’s price tag, estimated at $4.5 million to $11 million in its first year.
“This is a waste of money we don’t have on a program we don’t need,” Wozniak said in a news release.
State Republican Chairman Rob Gleason of Johnstown defended the measure as a necessary step to ensure fair elections.
“Showing identification has become a part of our daily lives. We show ID to prove that we are who we say we are when we drive a car, board plane, cash a check, purchase medicine, buy a gun or go hunting for our protection. Isn’t the integrity of our elections worth protecting too?” Gleason said in a news release.
Republican legislatures around the country are pressing the issue, and Pennsylvania would become the third-largest state, behind Texas and Florida, with such a photo ID requirement. A legal challenge is pending to a similar law passed last year in Wisconsin, and the ACLU said it will pursue one in Pennsylvania.
Read more: http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x261022222/State-Senate-approves-voter-identification-bill