Opponents blast Pennsylvania plan to require voter ID

    Pennsylvania’s Senate is set to consider a bill that would require voters to show state-issued identification at the polls.

    Opponents say the proposal is designed to lock out certain groups: people of color, new Americans, the elderly and the disabled.

    Members of all those groups would be ill-served if they were required to show voter ID every time they vote, say advocates such as Yvonne Gutierrez Bucher of the Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP.

    Should the state require voter ID, the Pennsylvania National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will take legal action, said president Jerome Mondesire.

    He said those recently released from prison also would be hurt by the requirement.

    “These people, when they come out of jails, when they come out of being incarcerated, getting an ID is a gargantuan task for many of them,” Mondesire said. “You cannot make it difficult for people to vote and call yourselves a democratic nation.”

    Rick Bloomingdale, the head of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, echoes the concerns of other union representatives who say the bill will hurt students, older Pennsylvanians, and low-income voters.

    “This is about fighting for our rights to — instead of being a country where any law enforcement or any person can come up to you and say, ‘Papers, please’ — to a country that says, ‘Everybody is entitled to vote. Everybody has a right to express their opinion,'” Bloomingdale said.

    Supporters of voter ID say it would cut down on fraud.

    Currently, only first-time voters and those who are new to a polling place must show photo ID.

    An earlier version of this story erred in how much the voter identification bill would cost the state. That cost is estimated at $1 million. About $3.8 million required to implement the bill would come from the federal government.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal