Pa. begins $5 million campaign alerting residents they’ll need ID to vote

The state of Pennsylvania has started spending $5 million in federal funds to let Pennsylvanians know they’ll be required to bring voter ID to the polls in November. The bill was backed primarily by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. That means there’s extra scrutiny as the first large public awareness campaign contract goes to Republican-leaning communications firm, the Bravo Group, as first reported by Philadelphia’s City Paper.

It’s complicated, says Zack Stalberg, with the bipartisan voter advocacy organization, Committee of Seventy. “You can hire a lot of public relations groups that look good on paper but don’t have the right expertise,” he said. “For my money, I would rather see a politically aware firm that knows how to reach voters.”

In a typical firestorm over the voter ID law, Republican House Majority Leaders Mike Turzai included it on a list of Harrisburg accomplishments when he spoke at a party event at the end of June.”Voter ID, which is going to allow Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done,” he said.

Opponents of the law argue that it will disproportionately affect low-income and elderly voters.

Last week, the Committee of Seventy unsuccessfully petitioned the Department of State to delay the voter ID law until after the general election. They did so after new numbers showed 10 percent of registered voters don’t have state-issued IDs. In Philadelphia, that rate was almost 20 percent.

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