Voter ID debate touches on fraud vs. voter protections

    Pennsylvania is poised to join an increasing list of Republican-ruled states that are enacting laws requiring voters to produce a state-issued I.D. at the polls. Those who support the proposal argue the measure will help safeguard against voter fraud.Some opponents say the bill is more about “political ploy” than public good, arguing that it’s aimed at driving down voter turnout. Other critics contend the Commonwealth simply doesn’t have a problem with voter fraud. Under state law, registered voters only have to sign a voting list if they have cast a ballot before.  If the measure passes, they’d also have to show a state-issued photo I.D. before heading into the booth.  Proponents of the measure argue that simple additional act would help cut down on instances of voter fraud across Pennsylvania. Republican State Representative Steve Barrar, of Delaware County, co-sponsored the House bill. “It’s about protecting the integrity of the process,” he said. “And when I have to walk up to the table where I vote and show an I.D. proving that I’m Steve Barrar, that protects my right to vote so no one else can go in and say that they are Steve Barrar and vote under my name.”But Democratic opponents argue the bill has the potential to disenfranchise poor, elderly, and minority voters who may not have a state I.D. to present to Election Day officials. Critics also argue that voter fraud is not a big enough problem in the Commonwealth to warrant a new law.Douglas Hill is executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.          ” If we have any indication that there was fraud occurring we would be the first ones in front of the General Assembly asking for a change in law. But we very simply have not seen fraud occurring in our election processes,” he said.  Hill says requiring I.D.s on Election Day will only serve to lengthen wait times and discourage potential voters from casting their ballot. The measure has already passed the state House and now faces a vote in the Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett has vocalized his support for the bill.  

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