Pennsylvania officials debated once again about the highly controversial voter ID law Tuesday, in a hearing held in the state’s commonwealth court.
After overwhelming concerns that the law would disenfranchise a great number of people in the upcoming election, the commonwealth’s hearing resulted in greater leniency to the state voter pool.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania insisted on Tuesday’s hearing; asking for the commonwealth court to decide if the state was providing easy access to a valid photo ID.
As a revision to the original draft of the law, it is no longer mandatory that individuals show two documents when trying to prove residency as they apply for a voting-only photo ID. However, people are still obligated to swear under penalty of law that they have no other form of valid ID.
Under the revision, voters are no longer mandated to acquire a “secure” photo ID from the state for purposes other than voting, a former prerequisite of the process.
Chairman of the Centre County Democratic Committee Greg Stewart said that the revisions are doing little to simplify the situation for many parts of the population.
“It doesn’t solve the problem because you still have to go to [the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation],” he said. “If I don’t have a driver’s license, how do I get there? You have to take the day off from work just to exercise [the] right to vote?”
Stewart said he has also taken issue with the lack of widespread familiarity with the revisions to the law and how it affects certain groups.
“We should do everything to allow people to vote,” he said. “They are placing roadblocks for poor people, elderly, and students.”
Centre County Republican Committee Chairman Daryl Schafer said he hopes Judge Robert Simpson upholds the law when the final decision is made Thursday.
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous issued a statement Tuesday and said the organization is “cautiously optimistic that the court will file an injunction against the voter photo ID law.”
“Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation said that processing even a small percentage of the voters who need ID would overwhelm their system,” he said in the release. “In Georgia, voter ID took years to implement. Pennsylvania is a bigger state and will need at least as much time as Georgia did.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Collegian staff member Lynn Ondrusek contributed to this report.