HARRISBURG, MARCH 5, 2012 — Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose their right to vote if HB 934 moves to the governor’s desk, which is why state Sen. Anthony H. Williams today called for its defeat.
A vote on the measure is expected in the state Senate tomorrow.
“It’s incredible, given this economy, that some members of the General Assembly are so focused on creating schemes to hurt Pennsylvanians as opposed to design ways to help them,” Williams said.
HB 934 would require voters to present photo identification issued by the United States or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prior to voting at a polling place.
“I feel like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. Every session another zealot introduces a voter ID bill, with no rationale except to limit the guarantees of the Constitution.”
Instead, under the bill’s stated provisions, countless seniors, youthful voters and a disproportionate number of lower-economic voters could lose access to the ballot box.
Besides potentially robbing now-eligible citizens the right to vote, HB 934 stands to cost a cash-strapped state a reported $11 million to retrain poll workers, upgrade technology, establish outreach campaigns and more. And this figure doesn’t include the anticipated litigation that will result.
“It took 100 years following ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 for all citizens to gain the right to vote,” said Williams. “Here we are only 40 years later, again, with legislation to dismantle voters’ rights. The only thing HB 934 does is artificially deny eligible people the franchise based on some perceived problem somewhere in Pennsylvania that has yet to be identified,” said Williams.
“We keep hearing that this bill is needed to ‘protect against fraud,’ but then no evidence of fraud is ever offered – none,” Williams said. “And to make matters worse, those supporting this measure have admitted that they don’t know of any such cases that even exist. This is far from sound policymaking or governance.”
Williams, along with other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, is set to offer amendments to HB 934 that would mitigate the damage this bill would create, especially for seniors.
“Rather than waste time on a bill that would limit rights and squander millions of taxpayer dollars, our time should be spent fighting for jobs and fairer taxation and an adequately funded education system that will enable our students to compete in a global marketplace,” Williams said. “These are things Pennsylvania citizens care about.”
“It’s disheartening that some of my colleagues would rather focus on ideological, hyper-partisan nonsense than on being the fiscal and conscientious stewards of the Commonwealth that the people elected us to be.”
Editor’s Note: View a full list of the amendments Sen. Williams offered.
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