Councilwoman Bass on the Voter ID bill: ‘Let the lawsuits begin’

    Philadelphia City Council today passed a resolution “condemning” a controversial state measure that requires voters to produce photo identification before casting their ballot in state and federal elections.

    Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 934, commonly referred to as the “Voter ID” bill, on Wednesday night. The state is now the 16th in the country to have such a requirement on the books.

    The local vote stemmed from a resolution that Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced at the March 8 meeting.

    Legal challenges expected

    Though the bill is now law, Bass said the resolution shows where the city and, in her estimation, most of the Commonwealth stands on the issue. She expects the measure to be challenged in court.

    “Let the lawsuits begin,” said Bass.

    Proponents argue that the law is a common sense approach to cutting down on voter fraud at the polls. Opponents say it will only serve to disenfranchise mostly Democratic voters who don’t have or can’t easily obtain photo IDs.

    “It strips voters from their constitutional right at the ballot box,” said Bass. “It’s a waste of taxpayer’s time and money and it’s a waste of energy in terms of sending legislators up to Harrisburg. Is this the best they can do?”

    The vote was not unanimous

    Two of the legislative body’s 17 members voiced their opposition; they are Republican Councilmen Brian O’Neill and David Oh.

    Neither said they were against the resolution’s sentiment, but rather its language.

    “While I do not support what has become the ‘Voter ID’ law in terms of the difficulties that arise in confirming the identification of the person, I do also believe that we should have expressed our disappointment as opposed to condemnation,” Oh explained.

    The law will take effect during November’s General Election.

    Voters can get a free ID through PennDOT before then. Those who show up to polls without a photo ID can still cast their ballot, but the vote will not count unless a proper photo ID is presented to the county election office within six days of the election.

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