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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: January 10, 2013 01:08 PM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Repeal of Voter ID Law
I will be re-introducing a bill which would repeal the Voter ID Law and increase penalties for Voter Impersonation in Pennsylvania.

I am aware that the Voter ID bill was passed a little over a year ago. However, since we cast that vote, we have received more information that would have been relevant to our deliberations and which show that the disenfranchisement the new law visits on the people of Pennsylvania was far more dramatic than we were originally led to believe, and that the motivations behind the law were not as they were represented during our previous debate. Specifically:

1. At the time we passed Voter ID we were told by the Pennsylvania Department of State that "more than 99% of registered voters already have the necessary, acceptable ID". After the bill was passed, the Department of State actually scrutinized the data and subsequently reported that 9.2% of registered Pennsylvanians, 750,000 of our fellow-citizens will be disenfranchised under Voter ID. We relied on the previous, 1,000% miscalculation in assessing the merits of the bill.

2. The Department of State has also indicated that burden of Voter ID will fall disproportionately on the poor, the elderly, students and racial minorities, and that almost one in five voters in Philadelphia are disenfranchised by this law.

3. Numerous pieces of investigative journalism have uncovered additional, specific problems with the Voter ID law, including (but not limited to) the difficult, and even impossibility of obtaining the necessary photo ID that some voters face, the adverse impact on women whose married name is different from the name on their birth-certificate, and the fact that a full 27.5% of senior citizens over 80 years old not only do not have proper photo ID, but will have a great deal of difficulty traveling to get it.

4. A number of courts in other states have either struck-down less restrictive Voter ID laws than ours, or expressed great skepticism about their constitutionality during court arguments, even as the actual decisions are pending.

5. A number of Pennsylvania officials elected to high office, and high-ranking partisan operatives have publicly said that the true purpose of passing the Voter ID law was not to prevent Voter Impersonation, as was represented at the time the law was passed, but instead to achieve partisan political advantage. Certainly, the vast majority of Senators would have opposed the law instead of supporting it if they knew that disenfranchising their fellow-citizens to enable one party to win elections was the true purpose of this bill.

In short, what the Senate thought were the facts when we voted, turned out not to be the facts in reality. Thus, it is important that we reconsider this legislation now that we know the true motivations and consequences of this new law.

Finally, nobody wants to see undeserving people impersonating legitimately registered voters and stealing their votes. While there is no evidence that this ever happens, we certainly want to do all we can to prevent a sudden epidemic of this heretofore non-existent phenomenon. So my bill would increase, to 10 years in prison, the penalty for impersonating a voter to gain a vote you do not deserve. This would put the penalty for this crime on par with robbing a bank, or kidnapping someone. I believe it would be an effective deterrent.

Introduced as SB543