Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Little History on Voter ID in PA

Pennsylvania is still sorting through the legality of the voter ID bill passed in the legislature (Republican majority) and signed by the governor (also a Republican) last year.  It wasn't the first time the state considered legislation on voter ID.  This is a very brief history, giving just cursory information.  Interested readers are encouraged to do further research on their own.

In 2002 State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (Republican) introduced a bill in the House that would require voters to show a photo identification at the polls.  It passed the house but the Senate adjourned before voting on their version of the bill.   The legislation mirrored a federal bill being considered at the same time.

The 2004 election was the first in which voters in new locations or first time voters had to show a voter ID card or a photo ID.  Student IDs were acceptable.  People who didn't have those could show a firearm permit, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check.  Voters who did not have any id could cast a provisional ballot.  It was a complicated process, though, requiring the provisional ballot to be placed in an envelope signed by the voter.

In 2006 both the Pennsylvania state senate and house (both having a Republican majority) passed voter ID legislation but it was vetoed by Gov. Rendell.  The bill would have required all voters to file a provisional ballot if they didn't have identification.

In 2008 Metcalfe introduced another bill requiring voter identification but it didn't pass.

In 2009 State Sen. Jane Orie (Republican)  sponsored a bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID or two other kids of identification of which one would have a photo.

In 2011 Metcalfe tried again and succeeded.  Voter ID passed the house, the senate and was signed by Gov. Corbett.  It is now in the courts.

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