Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has approved a measure to establish one of the nation's toughest photo identification laws for voters less than eight months before the presidential election.
The 104-88 vote Wednesday in the Republican-controlled chamber came after three days of debate. The measure heads to Gov. Tom Corbett, also a Republican, who says he'll sign it into law immediately. A court challenge is expected.
Democrats criticize it as a veiled effort to defeat President Barack Obama by suppressing some traditionally Democratic voters, such as minorities and college students, while making it more difficult for the elderly and disabled.
Republicans say it’s designed to combat voter fraud and protect the sanctity of elections through the use of widely available IDs. Counties warn the mandate will unnecessarily lengthen Election Day lines. Republicans say election officials should have time to give the concept a test run during the April 24 primary elections -- asking people for ID, but not requiring it -- and it would become effective for the Nov. 6 general election.
The measure allows many government employee photo IDs to be used as acceptable forms of identification to vote, along with student IDs from colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and IDs for people who live in elder-care institutions in the state, as long as they show a name, photo and expiration date that makes them current.
Before the final House vote on Wednesday, a coalition of Philadelphia-area organizations met to launch a voter education campaign about the impending law. The non-partisan good government group Committee of Seventy organized the effort.
“It will take an army fanning out across the city to get the word out,” said Zack Stalberg, Committee of Seventy President and CEO. “This enormous undertaking must start right now and continue every day until the November 6 general election.”
Find more information about House Bill 934 here.