FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pa. House Democratic Caucus
Dermody seeks federal review of Pa. Voter ID Law
Recent statement by Pa. Republican Leader exposes law as GOP election ploy
HARRISBURG, July 3 – As Americans celebrate Independence Day – and the hard-fought rights won by our forefathers – thousands of Pennsylvanians face a new threat to their right to vote, according to House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody.
That’s why Dermody, D-Allegheny, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week, asking him to intervene to stop the new Pennsylvania Voter ID Law from taking effect this November.
“I respectfully request that you use the full authority and power of your office to stop this travesty from moving forward,” Dermody wrote to Holder. “I ask that you review the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law to determine whether it complies with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution.
“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – controlled by a Republican House, Senate and Governor’s Office – has let its citizens down by eviscerating the most fundamental of Constitutional rights,” Dermody continued. “We need your help to change that. We need your help to protect the most sacred right we have as American citizens – the right to vote.”
Governor Tom Corbett signed the Voter ID Law on March 14, 2012, making Pennsylvania the 16th state in the nation to require registered voters to produce a valid photo ID in order to vote. Under the new law, if a voter does not possess one of the limited types of identification prescribed in the law, that voter is supposed to be entitled to a free photo identification card from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
However, Dermody noted that there is significant “bureaucratic red tape” involved to obtain a “free” voter ID, and in some cases fees must be paid in order to obtain other government documents that are required to receive the voter ID, such as a birth certificate, marriage license or a U.S. Passport.
For these reasons, the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, the Pennsylvania Conference of the NAACP and the Homeless Advocacy Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 Pennsylvania registered voters, who will be denied their right to vote through this law. More than 50 members of the state House Democratic Caucus signed a “friend of the court” brief in support of the groups.
“Proponents of the law claim it is necessary to stop voter fraud, yet they have been unable to produce a scintilla of evidence that voter fraud – and particularly voter impersonation fraud – is a problem in Pennsylvania,” Dermody wrote to Holder. “Since the law does not have an adequate transition period that would allow voters the necessary time to obtain the required form of ID, only one valid explanation for its enactment exists – to suppress the vote of traditionally Democratic constituencies, such as minorities, the elderly and individuals with disabilities, in the upcoming presidential election and beyond.”
Dermody noted that a recent statement by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, reaffirmed the contention of Democrats that the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law is a Republican-conceived voter-suppression law intended to limit Democratic voter turnout to help Republican candidates win elections.
Speaking at a televised Pennsylvania Republican State Committee meeting on June 23 in Hershey, Turzai said: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
“It was an inadvertent moment of sheer political honesty, and it reaffirmed what we already knew – that this law and others like it all across the nation are nothing more than an insidious attempt to suppress the Democratic vote in a presidential election year to favor Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney,” Dermody wrote to Holder.
Dermody said House Democrats will continue to fight the Voter ID Law, and are doing all they can to educate voters about the requirements under the law.
“This bill attacks the right to vote – a right that cuts to the heart of our democracy,” Dermody said. “It’s wrong and it’s shameful. But as long as it’s the law, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Pennsylvanians are not denied their fundamental right to vote.”
For more information about the new Voter ID Law, visit www.pahouse.com/voterID.asp