Are Pa. Voter ID posters just adding to confusion?

     A Montgomery County commissioner believe this Pennsylvania handout about voter ID will confuse voters.

    A Montgomery County commissioner believe this Pennsylvania handout about voter ID will confuse voters.

    Pennsylvania’s on again, off again voter ID law continues to be on hold. However, in advance of the off-year elections this November, the Corbett administration has restarted its educational campaign about the law.

    The latest judge to put Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on hold left in place requirements that the state must educate voters about the law, but Leslie Richards, vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, believes the materials provided to the county will confuse voters.

    Richards thinks the two-column handout the county received from Harrisburg will give voters the wrong impression they’re required to produce identification this year.

    “I thought it was extremely confusing as well as misleading,” Richards said.

    “Because the handout that they gave us says ‘voter ID’ in the largest print possible for it to fit across the page, and in extremely extremely small writing — I had to get my reading glasses even to see it — is the little addition that the requirement to produce photo id at the polls is not in effect at this time.”

    Pennsylvania’s Department of State Spokesman Ron Ruman says the state is following the law. He points out that, in court, Pennsylvania had been criticized for doing too little to educate voters about the law’s requirements.

    “It was our intent to begin that again prior to this election to refresh people’s memories about the law, which we believe at some point will be upheld by the court. We believe it’s constitutional.”

    Ellen Kaplan of elections watchdog Committee of Seventy says these legal intricacies may be lost on the average voter.

    “I think that a shorter, simple message that will give voters what they need for the election that they’re about to vote for is the best type of information to go to voters so that they are not confused,” Kaplan said.

    A state judge is currently reconsidering a constitutional challenge to the voter ID. Opponents say it will disenfranchise voters, particularly the elderly and minorities.

    As in the past, all first-time voters this November still need to produce some proof of identity — not necessarily with a photo — at their new polling place.

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