Pennsylvania Voter-ID Law Could Disenfranchise Up To 750,000

The impact of Pennsylvania’s new Voter-ID law could be much wider-reaching than the state’s Republican officials claimed when passing the bill, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

In fact, over 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania — representing 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million registered voters — do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, based on a comparison between voter registration rolls and the Transportation Department database.

The problem is most acutely shown in Philadelphia, with 186,830 registered voters who do not have ID cards in the Transportation database, 18 percent of the city’s total registration.

Pennsylvania has tended to vote Democratic in presidential elections, having only voted Republican in landslide elections since the 1950’s. However, the results can sometimes be quite close, and the GOP has sought to win the state in cycle after cycle. It voted for Barack Obama by an 11-point margin in 2008 – a raw vote spread of about 620,000 votes, less than the new figure of potentially disenfranchised voters. Before that, it went for John Kerry by only 2.5 points in 2004, a spread of about 145,000 votes.

Recently, the state’s GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai boasted of the Voter-ID law as a Republican accomplishment that would have an effect in November, telling a party meeting: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

His spokesman later told TPM: “The fact is that while Pennsylvania Democrats don’t like it to be talked about, there is election fraud.”

An exact count is difficult to determine, however, with other factors in the mix that could be inflating the numbers and thus over-estimating the problem to some extent.

For example, 167,566 of the registered voters are classified as “inactive,” having not voted in the last four years. “Our experience is, a lot of these people are former college students who don’t live here anymore,” a Department of State spokesman told the paper.

Previously, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania voters already had the necessary photo ID cards. The paper notes that she is claiming success in the new estimates, without making any reference to the previous statements.

“This thorough comparison of databases confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November,” she said in a news release. “This comparison takes into account only voters with PennDot IDs, and does not include voters who may have any of the other various acceptable forms of ID.”

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