Passed in the spring, the law requires all voters to possess an approved form of photo identification, a Republican-led initiative that critics argue was created to cut the number of eligible Democratic voters.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday said it would investigate the law and how it was passed.
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th Dist.) last week announced he is introducing a bill that would repeal the law, in light of new statistics about its potential impact.
When the voter-ID measure was being debated, its sponsors contended that only 1 percent of the state’s voters lacked proper identification, a complication that was overshadowed by what supporters said was widespread voter-fraud. However, earlier this month the Department of State released an analysis that found up to 9 percent of state voters — about 758,000 people — may lack an acceptable photo ID. In Philadelphia, that figure stands closer to 18 percent.
The numbers reflect registered voters whose names are not in the state’s Department of Transportation database. Voter-ID supporters argue that many of those people may have died, moved or be listed under another name.
In a statement released to his colleagues however, Leach noted the new statistics would have been important in shaping debate this past spring.
“Since we cast that vote, we have received more information that would have been relevant to our deliberations and which show the disenfranchisement the new law visits on the people of Pennsylvania was far more dramatic than we were originally led to believe, and that the motivations behind the law were not as they were represented during our previous debate,” Leach said.
Leach is circulating a cosponsorship memo before submitting the bill.
Last Thursday, opponents of the voter-ID, organized by the American Association of Retired Persons, rallied at Independence Mall. About one-quarter of Philadelphians lacking ID are senior citizens.
The event featured remarks by City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, out ACLU of Pennsylvania president Reggie Shuford and an array of activists, including trans activist Jordan Gwendolyn Davis, who spoke about potential discrimination trans voters could face.
Many of the speakers expressed support for the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state.
A trial began Wednesday in Harrisburg in that case.
Department of State officials said last week that the unit is working on a new state-issued identification card, soley for voting purposes, for those facing difficulties obtaining a PennDOT card. Details are expected to be released in the next month.
AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania will host an information session on the new law from noon-2 p.m. Aug. 7 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.
To register or for more information, call 215-587-9377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.