Poll: Palmer/Forks Reacts to Voter ID Decision
Will decision to uphold Voter ID law stick? Both sides had said they would appeal this ruling.
The Commonwealth Court ruled Wednesday morning not to stop Pennsylvania's controversial new voter identification law from going into effect.
Judge Robert Simpson, of Nazareth will not grant an injunction that would have halted the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID.
The loser in the decision -- the Amercan Civil Liberty Union's Witold J. Walczak -- told The Washington Post that the case isn't over. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”
Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 presidential election fast approaches, according to the Associated Press.
"I try to at these issues in an objective manner using facts," Forks Township Supervisor David Billings said. "In my opinion, the new voter ID law will hurt general election turnout, as people without ID's struggle to get proper ID's within the next 90 days."
Billings said he believed the challenge is whether "the million or so voters without ID's can find a way to obtain the proper identification."
"In the long term, this will become a non-issue with voters," he said.
Brian Lokitis, a director on the Business and Commerce Association of Forks Township, said he supports the legislation.
"Voting is a serious issue and should be taken seriously," Lokitis said. "Obtaining an acceptable form of ID is not as difficult as the opponents to the law would make it out to be. If the law required only a valid driver’s license, I may have more of an issue, but an acceptable form of ID could be a military card, business ID, pass port, food stamp ID, ID obtained from social security… almost anything with a picture and photo obtained from a legitimate source. If you have a birth certificate, you can get a legitimate photo ID easily enough."
"I don’t see how money is an obstacle to obtain a photo ID, since there are free or low-cost alternatives. The only obstacle is effort," Lokitis continued. "If you truly want to vote and don’t have an ID now (which in today’s day and age seems almost impossible after 911… can’t do anything without valid identification), you will make a serious effort to obtain one. The right to vote and the accuracy of a vote should not be taken lightly."
State Sen. Bob Mensch, a Republican who represents the 24th District which includes Easton, Palmer and Forks townships, Wilson and West Easton, reacted:
“I really expected that it would be upheld,” Mensch said. “The other side was trying to use the courts to legislate.”
He said opponents of the law are offering supposition about inconveniences some voters may face but for those who can’t get to the polls – such as senior citizens who don’t drive – they can vote by absentee ballot.
“From everything I’ve seen from the polls and data more than 75 percent of the people in the state approve of Voter ID, he said. "Voter ID will simplify all the issues, I really believe that. Particularly when we use ID for so many other things in our lives.”
The challenge to the law was brought by voter advocacy groups, including the ACLU and the NAACP.
Pennsylvania passed a law in March requiring all registered voters to show a valid and “acceptable” photo ID before voting. This is one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation.
Opponents of the law say it disproportionately targets the elderly as well as the poor and minorities, who typically vote Democrat. Furthermore, critics say that the burden of obtaining an acceptable ID for these people would keep them from voting.They add that preventing voter fraud (the supposed purpose of the law) is not a serious concern.
Thirty states have some sort of Voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, 19 do not require a photo, six require a photo and five, including Pennsylvania, have strict photo requirements.
Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, said the law is “clearly a deliberate effort to disempower certain voters on behalf of other voters.”
Jennings cited Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s declaration at a GOP State Committee meeting in which Turzai said: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done.”
“This is a blantant effort as sinister as it is cynical to take away the most fundamental right we have as Americans,” Jennings said. “Unless the judge doesn’t understand the day-to-day travails of average people, it’s unimaginable that he could have come to that decision.”
Jennings said his organization works with people who don’t own cars and don’t have the kinds of jobs they can just leave to go “deal with government bureaucracy” to get an official voter ID.
“It’s the kind of thing that has led so many people to give up their faith in our democracy or the notion that they have any say in their government,” he said.
John Faulstick, who lives in Palmer Township but is on the board of the Wilson Borough Republican Club said it’s not difficult to get the state issued identification voters can use.
“Every responsible adults should have some form of identification on them,” Faulstick said. “Most senior citizens are responsible enough to have ID.I know my mother is 75 years old, she doesn’t drive and she has a state issued ID.”
Faulstick said an exception should be made for those people who are voting by absentee ballot because they are elderly, sick or disabled.
“I am extremely disappointed in the judge's decision,” said Walt Garvin, the chairman of the Northampton County Democratic Party. “There are many reason for this disappointment, the most critical of them being the impact that this ruling will have on Election Day: There will be longer lines than ever at the polls!”
“It was not uncommon to have lines two and three hours long during the past three presidential election cycles,” said Garvin, Bethlehem Township, who is also the former chairman of the Northampton County Election Board.
“The practical impact of this legislation will double and triple those times. Many voters may simply walk away on Election Day,” he said.
“Shame on the Republicans in Harrisburg for this despicable attempt to frustrate the Pennsylvania electorate.”
Garvin said the party has obtained a database containing the names of 18,000 registered Northampton County voters who do not have driver’s licenses and are trying to reach out to them to educate and help them get the identification they will need to vote.
Garvin also said he is working with senior centers in the region to help them issue their own photo identification cards, which can be considered valid identification at the polls.
“Even if every voter who currently does not have the required PA photo ID manages to get one (which they won't), the request and verification of these ID's at the polls will add 30 seconds to one-and-one-half (1 1/2) minutes to each voter transaction,” said Garvin, who is also the former chairman of the Northampton County Election Board.