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Community Group Opposes Voter ID Bill

The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) is calling on the state Senate to defeat House Bill 934, which would require Pennsylvanians to present a government-issued voter ID before casting their ballots. Current law asks voters to present a form of identification when voting in their polling place for the first time. They include utility bills, fire arms permits, bank statements, and other forms with an address on it.

B-PEP Chairman Tim Stevens said that the bill will decrease young voter turnout. "Many of our youth, who are already skeptical of the political system and who do not have a huge commitment to participation in the political process, will be further discouraged by any new barriers to the voting process," said Stevens. "Any inhibitors to the voting process may, in fact, cause some young voters to have no desire to ever get involved in the voting process again."

Stevens said that there are few cases of voter fraud, and the legislature is trying to fix a non-existent problem. He said that 25 percent of African Americans do not have government-issued IDs, and will be negatively impacted.

Under the bill, free identification cards can be obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. People without sufficient identification can cast provisional ballots and then report to a county courthouse within six days to prove who they are.

Stevens said that isn't enough. "I don't care how much marketing they do. If they pass this bill, there will be literally millions of people in Pennsylvania who, on Election Day in the primary and Election Day in the general election, will not have heard that something now is required," said Stevens. "And to do that in the presidential election, where the leader of the free world is elected, is absolutely inappropriate."

The legislation passed the Pennsylvania House 108-88 in June, with all Democrats and one Republican opposed. According to Charles McIlhinney, Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, proposed amendments to the bill will make it possible for voters to use college IDs, work IDs, and expired drivers licenses for the elderly.