Pennsylvania anticipated that fewer voters wouldn’t have the identification required under a new law to cast a ballot than state employees later estimated, an official said.
Secretary of State Carol Aichele, testifying today at a trial in which the voting law is being challenged, said the state had expected 100,000 people to lack the proper ID. Another state official testified July 30 that the number may be more than 1 million. Aichele’s department oversees the voting process in the state.
Aichele, while disputing the higher estimate, said that if it’s correct, the state has a lot of work to do.
“We think the number is substantially less,” Aichele said. “We planned on less.”
Pennsylvania is one of nine states that passed strict laws requiring a photo ID to vote. Backed by Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, the state’s law requires voters to have a driver’s license or another ID issued by the state’s Department of Transportation, a state ID or an acceptable alternative such as a military ID, to cast a ballot in the presidential election.
The law was enacted in March as similar measures in Republican-led states drew criticism from Democrats, who say they disenfranchise minority, poor and young voters. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May with 10 Pennsylvania voters as plaintiffs. The group is asking Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson to block the law pending a final court decision.
More than 889,000 names on voter registration lists couldn’t be matched to Pennsylvania transportation department records, David Burgess, deputy secretary for planning and service delivery at the Department of State, testified July 30. Another 574,630 voters had expired PennDOT identification, Burgess said.
Aichele testified yesterday that the staff employee who compiled an initial projection showing about 759,000 people without either a driver’s license or alternative state ID did so in less than 24 hours because she was told to come up with a number. Aichele said she disagreed with the staffer’s assertion that the number was too low. Aichele later conceded that the state doesn’t know how many registered voters are out there without PennDOT identification.
Closing arguments in the weeklong case are scheduled for tomorrow.
The case is Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 330 MD 2012, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg).
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