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Local GOP, Dems React to Voter ID Ruling

Republicans are in favor of the new law, while Democrats think it is 'unconscionable' and should include addressing the absentee ballots

Local Republicans and Democrats are on opposing sides of the new Voter ID ruling in Pennsylvania.

Jean Fritz, secretary for the Lansdale Republican Committee, said she is very much in favor of the new law. 

"A photo ID is not a new concept. You need one for a driver's license in Pennsylvania and to get a passport," she said.

Fritz said she needed to show a picture ID at Citizens Bank, TruMark Financial and Giant Food Store in order to do certain business, so there are times that you may need to show a picture ID.

She said a photo ID is necessary even when you use your credit cards.

"With all the identity theft going on, picture ID requests are becoming more and more prominent," Fritz said.

Fritz witnessed an incident involving photo ID at the polls. She was in line to vote, standing in front of her neighbor. Her neighbor went in the booth and Fritz overheard her neighbor giving her mother's name.

"I come out and said, 'You just voted.' Her response was 'Well, my mother’s sick so I’m voting for her.'  A picture ID would prevent this," she said.

Fritz also serves as Judge of Elections at her ward's polling place. She has had to get volunteers from North Wales, Montgomeryville and Souderton to work the polls.

"I don’t know everyone in my district and with borrowed helpers who’s to say that voter fraud couldn’t happen," she said. 

Fritz said to look at the Montgomery County results from the 2011 Primary: 13.68 percent came out to vote. In the General Election in 2011, 31.65 percent came out to vote.

"So who is complaining? The people who don’t vote anyway. Folks who don’t take responsibility for selecting our representatives, but do the complaining," Fritz said. "Where is the figure of 700,000 people won’t be able to vote coming from? Does anyone ever ask follow questions? Does anyone ever challenge the media?

Liz Troy, secretary of the Lansdale Democratic Committee and North Penn Democratic Committee, said she can understand why some people support the general idea of requiring voter ID. Ultimately, Troy said the passage is convenient for Obama haters.

"The way the law is being implemented in Pennsylvania in 2012 is unconscionable," she said. "A very-poorly-thought-out plan was rammed through the legislature and passed via a purely partisan vote (all Republican, needless to say) —just in time to wreak havoc for the 2012 Presidential election. How convenient for Obama haters."

She said Gov. Tom Corbett is to blame for the ill-conceived law. She said Corbett was unable to answer simple questions about what does and does not constitute a valid photo ID to enable a citizen to vote in the state.

"Knowing this simple detail is at the heart of the law, which has been receiving an incredible amount of media attention all spring and summer. And the governor failed a simple pop quiz on it," Troy said. "Those of us who have been driving older folks to PennDOT to obtain their voter ID cards see further evidence that the state was not nearly ready to implement the law."

Troy said some of the workers at the PennDOT centers are not well versed in the details of the law, and from her experience, it almost seems as if these employees have been coached to find any excuse at all to refuse a voter’s document or to fail to offer the photo ID for free.

"If a document is handed to them folded or in an envelope, they will reject it without explanation, rather than open it up themselves or tell an 86-year-old that he or she should open it up," Troy said. "The form that is being used for the purpose of obtaining ID does not even include 'voter ID' as an option. All options on the form show a fee of $13.50 except surrendering of driving privileges, which is free. The workers are happy to take the unsuspecting citizen’s $13.50 rather than tell him or her voter ID is free."

Troy said Norristown and Huntingdon Valley DMVs are the only two places in the county to get the ID.

She also pointed the finger at voter suppression tactics across the country.

"Pennsylvania is only a piece of the GOP effort to keep targeted groups of people from voting by passing voter ID laws and by eliminating early voting in states that have had that privilege," Troy said. "How convenient for Obama haters. And how sad for democracy in the state and in the country."

Frank Bartle, chairman of the Lansdale Republican Committee, believed Simpson made the correct decision.

The law does not unduly burden voters and is intended to eliminate voter fraud," Bartle said. "Pennsylvania has a program which provides a free voter ID for those without one."

Democratic candidate for the 151st District seat in November Will Sylianteng said the law is flawed.

"It attempts to fix a problem that, by the Commonwealth's own admission, does not exist," he said. "In fact, the Republican majority leader admitted that the law was passed to help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania."

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to implement this new law, Sylianteng said. Money that could be better spent dealing with real issues like education and infrastructure development and repair, he said.  

"I run into people every day while campaigning who are legitimate and long-time voters who may have problems voting this November, simply because they have recently moved and their driver's license address does not match their registration address," he said. "I am seeing it more and more, because of a misplaced or omitted initial. Sadly, many of these people do not have the means or the time to get to a PennDOT center to remedy these issues."

Sylianteng said if the law is truly about fraud, then the government should address absentee ballots too.

"They - relied on by the GOP - were left virtually untouched by this law," he said. "Furthermore, wouldn't it have been more prudent to roll out these new rules in a less costly election cycle?"

The rules, he said, were pushed into play a few months before what will likely be one of the biggest elections in recent history.

"Remember, zero cases of fraud, but upwards of 700,000 people that may be disenfranchised by the law," he said. "Doesn't make sense."

Obama for America's Jennifer Austin said her group is committed to working with supporters and volunteers to register and educate Pennsylvanians.

"We want to ensure all eligible voters have the information they need to get to the polls in November and exercise their right to vote. Since the passage of the law, our campaign has included information on the new provisions in volunteer trainings, information resources, online, and in voter registration and education activities, and we will continue to do so," Austin said.

She said the Commonwealth should follow through on its plan to make available free IDs to any voter.

"Regardless of party affiliation, we support ensuring any voter eligible to cast a ballot has the right to do so," she said.

Resident Leenie Almo said the Voter ID Law would have included absentee ballots if it really was about fraud prevention.

"There have been zero cases of fraud at polling places. There is more of a problem with absentee ballots potentially being fraudulent, and yet they are not included. As it stands now, it looks more like a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression by the Republican Party," said Almo.

Email your opinion on the PA Voter ID Law to lansdale@patch.com

 

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mr grinch August 16, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Thank you Pat Shane for making the obvious point. Shall we poll those in favor of the Voter I.D as to weather or not they knew about the 15th amendment....oh wait that right...it just the constitution.
freeandequalpa August 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
For anyone interested in a detailed summary of the Court's opinion: http://freeandequalpa.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/petitioners-request-to-enjoin-enforcement-of-photo-id-law-denied/
Brian Rox August 16, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Who has no driving licenses, no credit cards, and no foreign travel credentials ? Elderly and poor.
Kelly J August 18, 2012 at 02:30 AM
You guys do realize that the 15th amendment prohibits the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (for example, slavery) --- explain to me how showing ID contradicts the 15th amendment??????
mr grinch August 18, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Correct.... Citizens with or with out a "Voter I.D" Explanation provided. Your welcome.

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