The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 4, 2013

State’s voter ID law still on hold

HARRISBURG — For the third consecutive election, poll workers will ask voters to show identification, but for the third time, citizens do not need ID to vote today.

The state’s controversial voter identification law remains in limbo until an appeals court judge decides whether it’s legal. The courts have mainly focused on whether the state can make sure all registered voters are allowed to cast ballots.

With the status of the law in question, a judge has ordered that poll workers must stop telling voters they will need to have identification to vote in future elections. Suggesting identification will be required could improperly deter some voters from coming to vote, even if the law is overturned, said Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley.

An American Civil Liberties Union analysis estimated that 509,000 would-be voters would be kept from the polls by the photo ID rule. Experts hired by the state questioned some of the ACLU’s calculations. But even if all the objections raised by the state are included, the ACLU still estimates that more than 300,000 people would be disenfranchised by the rule.

Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said the commonwealth has no alternate estimate.

Using the ACLU’s numbers, at best 1-in-18 Pennsylvanians without state-approved photo identification have obtained voter IDs created by the Department of Transportation and Department of State. The Department of Transportation has issued 13,165 IDs, while the Department of State has provided 3,937 IDs, Penn-DOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said.

The Department of State is spending $1 million on advertising to encourage those with identification to bring it to polling places. A sample television ad on the Department of State website notes that those without identification can learn how to get suitable ID by calling


But in last summer’s voter ID trial, a Department of State official conceded that the agency has focused its efforts on getting people with identification prepared to bring it to the polls, said Vic Walczak, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the lawsuit challenging the voter ID rules.

Getting identification for those who lack it has taken a back seat, he said.

The state has made no effort to determine how many people have been showing up to vote with identification. The state also has not tracked complaints from voters who feel that they have been given improper instructions by poll workers, said Ruman.

“The law doesn’t make sense, and nothing in the state’s handling of the law has made sense,” said Walczak.

Four states have strict photo identification rules for voters – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee. Pennsylvania is one of seven states where new strict photo identification rules have been approved by the state legislatures, but have not gone into effect due to court challenges. The others are Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Proponents, chiefly Republicans, say the voter identification rules are intended to protect the integrity of the state’s election system.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, notoriously predicted that the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win in Pennsylvania.

“Voters without identification are two times as likely to be Democrats,” Walczak said.

The state has yet to demonstrate that there has been a single case of voter impersonation fraud, Walczak said.

McGinley is expected to hand down his ruling in the voter ID lawsuit before the end of the year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads