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
  • District Deaths April 25, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • GarageA25.JPG Garage collapses in Oakland following Weds. night accident

    No one was hurt when a garage collapsed Thursday afternoon in the Oakland section of Stonycreek Township.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 24, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 24, 2014

  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads