PHILADELPHIA — Six organizations are calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to ask state lawmakers to delay implementation of Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, which requires people to show photo identification when they go to the polls beginning this November, but a state spokesman immediately rejected the request.
The groups — the Committee of Seventy, the Advancement Project and the Pennsylvania chapters of Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union as well as the Philadelphia AFL-CIO — cited the state's announcement last week that more than 758,000 of the 8.2 million registered voters in the commonwealth lack the most commonly used photo ID cards provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Executive Director Barry Kauffman of Common Cause Pennsylvania said he was concerned that state lawmakers who passed the voter ID law in March relied upon inaccurate information that 99 percent of voters already had the necessary ID, only to find that 9.2 percent of voters lack PennDOT driver's licenses or non-driver photo ID cards.
"We are urging Gov. Corbett to go to the leaders of the General Assembly with a bill to delay implementation of the voter ID law for at least one year, so all the state's 8.2 million voters can be properly educated . . . and people who do not have a photo ID for voting can have ample time to obtain one," said Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, vice president and policy director for the Committee of Seventy.
The ACLU and the Advancement Project are providing legal support for a constitutional challenge to the law, with a hearing in state court slated for July 25.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/MQ3sZr ) says the Corbett administration immediately rejected the request for a delay.
"Our goal since the law was signed is to reach out to all voters to make them aware of the law so all eligible voters are able to get ID if needed and cast ballots in November," said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Ruman said the governor didn't have authority on his own to delay the photo ID requirement and would not ask the Republican-controlled Legislature to change the law.
"The administration supports the law," Ruman told the newspaper in an email, "because it protects the integrity of every vote and voter by giving Pennsylvania for the first time a reliable way to verify the identity of each voter at the polls. This will help detect and deter any illegal voting."