Monday, July 22, 2013

Voter ID Trial Day 6: Governor and Legislature Rejected Dept. of State and Dept. of Aging’s Recommendations to Make Voter ID Law Less Burdensome

By Mary Kate Kalinich, Legal Intern, ACLU of Pennsylvania

The first witness at the voter ID trial today was David Proctor, a 67-year-old registered voter and Harrisburg resident.  Mr. Proctor testified about the difficulty he faces trying to comply with Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. His hip, knee and back problems make it difficult for him to walk the couple miles to the nearest PennDOT location. In addition, there is no easily accessible public transit, and his closest family member works six days a week and takes care of her four children. Although Mr. Proctor does not have a valid ID under the new voter ID law, he does have a Department of Welfare ID, a merchant marine card, a swim club ID, and a bus pass with photo identification. Mr. Proctor testified that he has used these IDs to open a bank account in the past.

The second witness of the day was Rebecca Oyler, former policy director for the Department of State. Ms. Oyler testified that she reviewed aspects of the bill that would become the new voter ID law and acted as a liaison to the governor’s office. She admitted that on numerous occasions, the Department of State and the Department of Aging recommended changes to make the proposed law less burdensome that were rejected, including loosening the absentee voting restriction to accommodate those who are able to vote in person but can’t get to a PennDOT driver’s license center.   

The plaintiffs closed the day with a short clip of Secretary of State Carol Aichele’s testimony in a legislative hearing earlier this year. Secretary Aichele was asked how many individuals currently do not have valid ID. Although she could not give a concrete number for the state of Pennsylvania, she stated that studies show that 96.7% of voters in Philadelphia have acceptable ID.


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