Pa. Senate approves voter ID plan

    After a nearly party-line vote in the Pennsylvania Senate, a voter ID bill heads to the House, where’s it’s expected to get a concurrence vote.

    Right now, photo ID at the polls is required by federal law the first time someone votes at a precinct.

    That’s due to the 2002 Help America Vote Act, said Jenny Bowser, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislature.

    “The HAVA-approved voter ID list includes things like a utility bill, or a paycheck, or a government document,” she said. “It’s not restricted to a short list of photo IDs.”

    The voter ID bill that cleared the Pennsylvania Senate Wednesday would require photo identification issued by PennDOT, an accredited Pennsylvania college or university, or a Pennsylvania care facility.

    Bowser said it’s not uncommon to see court challenges to voter ID laws – something that’s already been threatened by at least one civil rights group in Pennsylvania.

    She said the voter ID is a polarizing issue

    “Probably the most partisan issue I’ve tracked and it falls very starkly on partisan lines, with Republicans tending to favor voter ID and Democrats tending to oppose it,” Bowser said. “There are a few notable exceptions, but that’s the general truth.”

    This week in Wisconsin, a judge found that the recently implemented voter ID law would have a disproportional impact on minorities.

    The case still hasn’t gone to trial, but in the meantime, the judge halted the implementation of the voter ID law – a hold Wisconsin could, in turn, challenge.

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