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July 10, 2014, 5:20 pm

State reps. decry voter ID law

Reps. Thomas, Waters say bill is burden to voters, poll workers

 

While mostly Republicans and tea party members hailed Wednesday’s signage of H.B. 934 by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, state Representative W. Curtis Thomas roundly slammed the measure as yet another attempt to stifle voter’s rights.

And according to Thomas, there is a correlation between Corbett’s bill and the upcoming presidential and statewide elections.

“I’d like the supporters of this law to answer this question: why now? How can you in good conscious commit $4 to $11 million in taxpayers’ money to implement this law while cutting millions from education, housing, healthcare, jobs and community economic development?” Thomas said through a statement released by his office. “How can you find money to implement this reprehensible law, but you can’t find money for these areas that effect the necessities of life, especially during these hard economic times?

“This law is reminiscent of old Jim Crow laws and serves no purpose except to suppress the vote in November. Stop putting politics before people.”

Thomas isn’t the only prominent local politician to speak out against the bill. As reported in a recent edition of The Tribune, state Rep. Ron Waters, who leads the Legislative Black Caucus, said “this is nothing more than an attempt by Republicans to keep seniors, minorities and low-income citizens from their constitutional right to vote … Pennsylvania will have the distinction of moving backwards with this discriminatory bill.”

Corbett and other state officials dismiss accusations of trying to rig the vote, saying instead this bill will increase the validity of the vote and curtail voter fraud.

This law will help us preserve the integrity of every vote in Pennsylvania,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele. “No one entitled to vote will be denied that right by this bill, but by preventing those not legally allowed to vote from casting ballots, we will make sure every vote carries the weight it should in deciding elections.”

According to Corbett’s office, a poll suggested that 87 percent of those responding were in favor of the bill, and 99 percent of all eligible voters statewide have the proper identification needed to vote already; the bill passed, 104-88, and is stated to go into effect immediately.

In his statement, Corbett said 31 other states also require some form of official identification; 15 of those require photo ID.

Thomas, like his colleague Waters, believes this bill will further encumber the commonwealth with unnecessary expenses, and will also unreasonably burden those doing the grunt-work come election day by forcing election workers to either enforce the policy or risk reprimand themselves.

“Why are you punishing these hardworking people who toil for as much as 15 consecutive hours on Election Day for as little as $100 by subjecting them to possible prosecution if the don’t comply with enforcement?” said Thomas, who also serves as democratic chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee. “This entire scenario is a backhanded assault on the people of the Commonwealth. I hope people remember who supported this law and send them a strong message at the polls in April and November.”

 

Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .