Hundreds of people are joining in a noisy rally at Pennsylvania's state Capitol to protest the state's new mandatory photo ID law for voting.
The protesters -- union members, religious leaders and others -- gathered around a 25-foot inflatable replica of the Liberty Bell at the top of the statehouse steps Tuesday afternoon. They waved signs and chanted slogans such as “Voter ID, Not for Me!”
More than two dozen people are slated to speak during the two-hour rally.
"George Washington didn't need a voter ID card,” said Pa. State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who serves as Democratic whip and chair of the state government committee. “John Adams didn't need a voter ID card. Ronald Reagan didn't need a voter ID card. If it wasn't good enough for the Founding Fathers, it's not good enough for me!"
The protest comes one day before the state Commonwealth Court plans to open a hearing on a lawsuit seeking to block the law from taking effect on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012.
Similar protests are scheduled on Wednesday in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown.
A group of Philadelphia-area civil rights and religious leaders plans a silent march Wednesday “from Thomas Paine Plaza through City Hall ending at Governor Corbett’s office [on South Broad Street]” to protest the law, according to a press release.
The law requires all Pennsylvania voters to present an acceptable form of photo ID before their votes can be counted. State figures show an estimated 758,000 voters, about 9.2 percent of the statewide electorate don’t have photo ID and may have trouble obtaining the required identification.
The U.S. Justice Department asked state officials on Monday for information about whether they have tried to determine how many people lack proper IDs and what they are doing to educate voters about the requirement.