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Politics & Government

Pennsylvania's Top Elections Official Favors Voter ID at the Polls

A member of the Corbett administration is voicing her support for a state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. Carol Aichele, the commonwealth's Secretary of State, said her department aims to protect every Pennsylvanian's right to vote.

If a voter ID law is passed and signed, a person would only be able to cast a ballot, in person or by mail, after proving three things: U.S. citizenship, residency in Pennsylvania and that he or she is 18 years or older. "The voting requirements are pretty … pretty generous," said Aichele.

She said 99% of Pennsylvanians already have government-issued photo ID. Last spring, state House Democrats roundly criticized a voter ID bill claiming it would discourage voter turnout. But, Aichele noted that Georgia is one state with a voter ID law that saw its turnout rise during the 2008 presidential election, shortly after it was implemented.

"There is statistical information to support the fact that photo ID does not diminish the number of eligible voters," said Aichele. "The percentage of African American voters in Georgia rose five percent when comparing the 2004 vote to the 2008 vote." Aichele conceded the increase in turnout could be due to other factors, like the 2008 election of the first African American president, but added it's something to consider in the voter ID debate.

Then-Governor Ed Rendell vetoed a 2006 bill to require voters to present identification. The legislature is expected to vote on a similar proposal this fall.