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Politics & Government

Voter ID Bill Awaits Senate Action

Labor unions and voting rights groups are calling a proposal to require state-issued identification at the polls a "voter suppression" bill.

This week, the Pennsylvania state Senate will consider legislation that would require voters to show a state-issued ID at the polls. Currently, only first-time voters and those who are new to a polling place must show photo ID.

Opponents of the bill said minorities, new citizens, the elderly and disabled would be negatively affected by being required to show voter ID every time they vote.

Jerome Mondesire president of the Pennsylvania NAACP, said his group will sue the state if the bill passes. He said it also hurts those who have been recently released from prison.

"These people when they come out of jails, when they come out of being incarcerated, getting an ID is a gargantuan task for many of them," said Mondesire. "You cannot make it difficult for people to vote and calls yourselves a democratic nation."

Under the legislation, drivers licenses or photo IDs issued, at no cost, by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are accepted at polling stations. Parolees are eligible for both. Proponents argue requiring voter ID would cut down on voter fraud that currently goes undocumented.

However, Marian Schneider, an attorney with the Advancement Project, a national voting rights organization, said they heard from election judges and poll workers who say the current system works, and they don't want to have to check IDs.

"They're concerned about turning away voters whom they know personally because they don't have the restrictive type of government-issued non-expired photo ID that this bill would require."

Last year, the state House Appropriations Committee estimated the bill would cost the state more than four million dollars to implement in time for the 2012 general election.