The Pennsylvania State Government Committee is reviewing two House bills calling for voters to show photo identifications before they can cast their ballots.
The committee held a hearing last week, receiving testimony from opponents and proponents of two House bills, said Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, a member of the committee.
Grove is among a group of legislators who introduced House Bill 934, which would require the
use of driver's licenses or identification cards for voting.
The other proposal, House Bill 647, would require all voters to have photo ID on their voter registration cards, said Grove.
Preventing fraud: The point of both bills is to ensure that people who are showing up at the polls "are who they say they are" in efforts to prevent voter fraud, Grove said.
For instance, HB 934 would ensure that people living in more than one state aren't voting twice in one election, Grove said.
"In some cases, there are people registered in Pennsylvania and Florida," he said. "If you say you're living in Pennsylvania, but you pull out a Florida driver's license, you're not allowed to vote in Pennsylvania. It's one person, one vote."
Last week's hearing included senior groups and various organizations on both sides of the voter-photo ID issue, Grove said.
Opposition: Opponents of HB 934 said it would disenfranchise nondriving voters, including senior citizens and low-income residents, because the photo identification requirement would force them to purchase ID cards in order to participate in elections.
Opponents said such a move would be similar to imposing a poll tax, according to Grove.
Current law requires that first-time voters show photo ID or bills to prove they reside in their voting precincts. Then voter registration cards are used for subsequent voting procedures, Grove said.
However, HB 647, introduced by Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, would require that all voters use voter registration cards containing their photos at every election, Grove said.
"Opponents are concerned about the huge financial cost associated with doing that," he said. "The state would have to cover the cost to do these cards for all voters."
Necessary?: Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, also a State Government Committee member, said the proposals aren't necessary because the state already has sufficient laws requiring the public to show identification to get voter registration cards and when voting at a precinct for the first time.
"If we need more training with judges of elections to make sure current rules are followed, then I think that (would be) a significant safeguard to make sure they (enforce) voting procedures," DePasquale said.
The state government committee will review and discuss the testimony and the details in the actual bills, Grove said. There is no timeline as to when the committee would decide whether to approve the bills for further legislative action, he said.
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.