Northwest Philly officials launch effort to repeal state’s Voter ID law

State Rep. John Myers (D-201) didn’t mince words Tuesday while speaking about the Commonwealth’s controversial Voter ID law.

“If you want to repeal something, repeal this stupid, racist, out-of-touch effort against women, minorities and blacks,” said Myers during a morning press conference outside of a PennDOT Service Center in West Oak Lane.

Myers and fellow state Rep. Dwight Evans (D-203) plan to do just that.

Bill introduction coming

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The pair of Northwest Philadelphia lawmakers is scheduled to introduce a bill — House Bill 2313 — aimed at overturning the law at the end of the month.

The current measure (House Bill 934) was signed into law in mid-March by Gov. Tom Corbett. It requires that voters present photo identification at the polls during state and federal elections.

Under the law, voters can get a free ID through PennDOT, an initiative expected to cost the state several million dollars.

Those who show up to the polls without photo ID can still cast their ballot. The vote will not count, however, unless a proper photo identification is presented to the county election office within six days of the election.

The measure is set to take effect during November’s General Election.

Heated debate

Proponents maintain that the law is a common-sense approach to cutting down on incidents of voter fraud at the polls. Evans maintained that argument doesn’t hold up.

“There was no demonstration of fraud,” he said. “There was no kind of hearings around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to demonstrate that there was a case for this particular law.”

Evans and other opponents argue that the law will only serve to disenfranchise mostly Democratic voters who don’t have or can’t easily obtain photos IDs.

Evans and Myers plan to join hands with other elected officials and community leaders to help spread the word about their push to repeal the law.

Their supporters say…

State Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-200) said lawmakers and citizens will not stand down despite the difficult partisan-road ahead. In addition to having a Republican administration, both chambers of the state General Assembly have a Republican majority.

“We are taking on what some consider be to an insurmountable task. They think it’s impossible,” said Parker, “but they have not seen what will happen when people pay attention to the facts and they start doing something that politicians don’t expect people to do and that is connecting the dots.”

David Bell with Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks said he is optimistic that the current law can be reversed as long as people mobilize around the issue.

“I think when you can move the people, you can move mountains,” said Bell, who is also a board member of East Mt. Airy Neighbors, a civic group.

Though announced at Tuesday’s press conference in West Oak Lane, the measure is scheduled to be formally introduced April 30, the first House session following the Easter break.

The state American Civil Liberties Union has announced that it intends to file a lawsuit around the same time. They aim to challenge the law’s constitutionality.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

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