A local lawmaker is calling for an independent investigation to determine how many eligible Pennsylvania voters will need to acquire photo identification before the November election and why initial estimates may have been exceedingly low.
Ideally, state Rep. Eugene DePasquale said, the Legislature would change its collective mind about requiring people to show photo ID before voting. But, with Republicans in charge, that's unlikely to happen, he said.
"Would I support a repeal? The answer is yes," DePasquale, D-York City, said Thursday. "I've got a better chance of being the starting pitcher for the Phillies tonight."
So, in the meantime, DePasquale said, he'd like to find out why estimates of voters who lack ID keep creeping upward.
New law: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed the new law in March after it passed the Republican-controlled Legislature. Every Democrat voted "no."
Before their vote, legislators had been told by the Corbett administration that only about 1 percent of eligible voters would need to obtain a photo ID before November, DePasquale said.
But, he said, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently revised that estimate to as many as 10 percent.
"I'm not suggesting who's right and who's wrong," DePasquale said. "I think everyone needs to have a timeout here. Let's figure out how we are so off on the data."
Bob Wilson, who chairs the York County Republican Party, said DePasquale is wasting time on an issue that's "not that large of a deal.
"What he should be focusing on is registering folks who do not currently have proper identification," Wilson said. "I just find it a shame that the Democrat Party is spinning its wheels and Eugene DePasquale is spinning his wheels on something that is a common-sense reform."
Hearing: Meanwhile, a hearing is under way in a case seeking to block the law this year while state judges also consider a challenge to its constitutionality. This week, a University of Washington professor defended how he came up with an estimate that more than 1 million registered voters lack a photo ID valid under the law.
Democrats' accusations that the voter ID law is an election year scheme to steal the White House were fanned in June when the House Republican leader told a state party gathering the law would allow Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania in the fall.
The photo ID requirement is a significant departure from current law, which asks only people voting in a ward for the first time to show identification, including such non-photo forms as a utility bill or bank statement.
DePasquale said he is open to debate about who should conduct an investigation. He suggested state auditor general Jack Wagner, a Democrat who's nearing the end of his second term and can't run for re-election because of term limits. DePasquale is Democrats' choice to replace him.
"Someone like (Wagner) might be a good person to conduct this," DePasquale said. "It's got to be somebody who doesn't have skin in the game in November."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.