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Politics & Government

State Stands by Voter ID Law, Despite New Controversy

There is little concern on behalf of the Corbett administration regarding the state's new discovery that fewer voters have PennDOT-issued IDs than previously suspected.

"No one will be disenfranchised in Pennsylvania. No one," Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele said.

New data reveals 91% of voters in the commonwealth have PennDOT identification numbers, down from the 99% figure originally cited. This leaves approximately 750,000 voters potentially snubbed come Election Day if they don't secure other forms of ID, but the state is standing by the law.

Community activists and minority groups insist even more voters mill be affected, while the state contends the number is most assuredly smaller. Aichele points to the fact that many voters not in the PennDOT database have other forms of acceptable ID, including student, military, or employer IDs, which must have an expiration date.

"Any time you make a change there are issues that are not anticipated and really, for this size issue in Pennsylvania, I think the challenges we're facing are relatively small, and we can address those," Aichele said.

The first challenge will be educating the voters. To that end, the state is sending letters this summer to all those without PennDOT IDs alerting them of the new law and how to prepare. Aichele said she is also working with a Pittsburgh based firm to do outreach throughout the state.

Another challenge, given the new data, is the potential that more voters will qualify and ask for the free IDs promised by the state. When asked if she was concerned this might break her $5 million budget, Aichele told a story. The state's own employee cards lack necessary information to be acceptable at the polls, she said, so the Department of State offered new photo IDs to state workers.

"I'm kind of surprised: 80,000 employees in Pennsylvania; 39 people needed it, and we're not even sure they needed it. They just wanted it," she said. The state has issued fewer than 3,000 IDs to people who need them to vote, she said, and has funding for 100,000 total.

The ACLU has challenged the state over the law and will outline its argument in a court hearing next week.