The effects of a state agency memo have marked the start of the second week of in the trial over the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law.
In the 2011 document, two state agencies suggest that the governor’s office support changes to the voter ID requirement to minimize the chances elderly or disabled voters would be disenfranchised.
State attorneys point out other changes were adopted to provide broad access to photo IDs.
Michael Rubin, among the lawyers challenging voter ID, said the testimony shows the governor’s office was indifferent to possibilities that eligible voters would be unable to cast ballots.
“Time and again, they picked restrictive IDs, IDs that they knew were not being issued, care-facility IDs that are not being issued,” he said. “They predicted that if they don’t allow people who can’t get to PennDOT to vote absentee, they’ll be disenfranchised through no fault of their own.”
The Department of State and the Department of Aging suggested loosening the restrictions around absentee voting so senior citizens and voters with disabilities could cast ballots even if they couldn’t get to a PennDOT office to get photo ID.
Instead, the bill was changed to allow care facilities, including nursing homes, to issue photo IDs valid for voting.
Rebecca Oyler, former policy director for the Department of State who suggested changes to the voter ID law, testified that the final voter ID law and the efforts made by state agencies to educate voters have made valid ID “broadly available.”
“I think that anybody who wants to get an ID can choose to get one,” she said.
Rubin countered that it amounts to blaming voters for not being able to vote.
“That is, sort of, in a nutshell, what a lot of this case is about: A law that on its face is very restrictive, that was intentionally restrictive,” he said. “Time and again, the Department of State said, you should make it less restrictive, and they chose to make it more restrictive.”