The State College Borough Council voted to push back the discussion of the new Pennsylvania Voter ID Law to the Aug. 20 meeting in order to obtain the public opinion first.
“I’m disturbed by the fact the law we’re discussing was put through in a very partisan way and will have effect of disenfranchising many voters,” James Rosenberger said. “I’m not against people identifying themselves properly, but how that gets done, we need to be more sensitive for people.”
Though the discussion of the law was intended for last night’s meeting — at which the council would have expressed support or disapproval of the law — the members decided they needed to poll the public before addressing it.
“It’s difficult to vote on this without having had time to talk and to receive public opinion,” State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said. “I just can’t do the voting without having time to have public discussion.”
The new voter ID law requires Pennsylvanians to present photo IDs in order to vote.
“They have also admitted this will have the effect of decreasing the Obama vote in Pennsylvania,” Peter Morris said. “And of course, that’s the point of it. It’s common sense; we all knew that. It seems to me that it’s a terribly undemocratic way to proceed to use voting laws to twist the election process so that your way wins.”
Though the Council debated whether to wait until the Sept. 4 meeting, Morris said an upcoming case in the Commonwealth Court could rule the law unconstitutional.
“So it could be by early September this law won’t exist,” Morris said.
The Council also voted to amend the motion by adding that they would “resolve that the State College Borough Council opposes recently enacted voter ID laws and calls for the repeal of the one in Pennsylvania.”
Council President Donald Hahn also said the decision on Paterno Way has been postponed indefinitely.
“If I’m allowed a personal opinion, I think that perhaps Paterno is going to become the Robert E. Lee of Penn State,” he said.
Hahn said it was also important to point out the fact that it was a year before they ended up renaming the plaza, and some careful consideration is warranted for the Paterno Way decision.
The council also discussed the Food Establishments Ordinance, in which Borough Manager Tom Fountaine proposed the appeal of Chapter 9 Part B and the replacement of it with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Food Code Regulations and Facility Safety Act.
“Whatever changes occur now to the food code will be an automatic amendment to the state food code,” Fountaine said.
The council unanimously approved the acceptance of this act.
Morris said that he also wished to address the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“After Aurora, and we’ll see if after Oak Creek, there was little outcry for gun control. Politicians at all levels from the White House down to local councils seem to be immobilized by the gun lobby and its friends,” he said. “It’s very disappointing that that’s the way things go.”
Morris said on a personal note, he was at the University of Texas during a shooting forty-six years ago.
“These slaughters are unimaginable tragedies for the families and loved ones of the victims,” he said. “I can’t even think about how it must feel for someone close to you to be killed in that way.”