VoterID laws are being introduced and sometimes passed in a number of states. The Wall Street Journal had an article on this topic over the weekend ("More states impose photo ID at voting booth," by Jennifer Smith), with an accompanying chart showing general categories of id requirements by state. Here is an excerpt:
To some extent, the new laws track the priorities of Republican lawmakers who held more state legislative seats than they have since 1928, legal experts say.
Another WSJ article earlier in the week (12/28, "Democrats lag in voter registration," by Laura Meckler) points out that the GOP seldom conducts voter registration drives. While nationally and in many states, including Pennsylvania, Democrats have a registration advantage, turnout is critical.
Philadelphia's newly elected City Commissioner Stephanie Singer thinks the proposed Pennsylvania Voter ID bill (HB 934) is "hogwash." In an editorial in the Inquirer on 12/29 the paper said "as many as 700,000 could be striped of their voting rights." Singer and PA Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele had a short discussion about the bill during the call-in section of a Radio Times interview with Aichele. A recording is available on You Tube.
An article by AP reporter Marc Levy, "Pa voter bill advances," posted on the FoxPhilly site, includes this quote:
Senate State Government Committee Chairman Charles McIlhinney said he has seen no proof that people are casting illegal ballots, but he also said he's seen no proof that tightening the requirements would deny anyone the right to vote. He called the requirement a "security check."
At present new voters or people voting in a polling place for the first time are asked to show an id but it doesn't have to be a photo id. The bill in PA would require a photo id issued by a specified list of places (government id, college or university, nursing home, etc.)
Several groups have been identified as less likely to have the kind of identification outlined in many of the new state voterid bills: the young (college students), African Americans, the old and the poor. The New York Times has a nice essay on the voterid issues for college students. Think Progress outlines some of the cases that have come up for the elderly. Philadelphia Weekly's PhillyNow blog spells out how this impacts Pennsylvania in particular. The Delaware County Daily Times has published an editorial against the bill as has the Phillyburbs site.