Philly official testifies poll workers aren’t ready to enforce voter ID law

    On the final day of testimony in a court challenge to the photo identification requirement at the polls, a Philadelphia elections official testified that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is too much, too fast.

    Jorge Santana, deputy for Democratic Philadelphia Commissioner Stephanie Singer, says with the voter ID law scheduled to take full effect in November, the No. 1 concern of his office is having poll workers who aren’t properly trained to enforce the law.

    “There has never been a component of training election poll workers,” Santana said. “There has never been any money allocated to the counties to revamp and upgrade their election boards.”

    Santana echoes concerns voiced by Allegheny County’s election director.

    Both testified the law will lead to a surge in lines at the ballot box, as poll workers try to enforce and explain new rules to voters who are already expected to turn out in high numbers because of the presidential election.

    An expert on voter fraud also took the stand Wednesday.

    While voter fraud is often the rationale given for voter ID proposals across the country, Rutgers University professor Lorraine Minnite says her research shows such cases are “exceedingly rare” — and not only because it’s a crime.

    “So the motive has to be strong, and the benefits — they’re not robust, let’s say,” Minnite said.

    Minnite said she found very few prosecuted cases of voter fraud, even after a federal initiative made such investigations a top priority.

    The commonwealth contends low prosecution rates could be due to district attorneys and attorneys general pursuing cases at their own discretion.

    Both sides are expected to present closing arguments in the hearing Thursday.

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

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.