Pa. law hampers some voters from getting IDs

(CBS News) In Pennsylvania, a judge held a hearing Wednesday on a challenge to the state law that requires voters to show a photo ID. The judge has until Tuesday to rule. We examine what's at stake.

Sixty-eight-year-old Doris Clark was turned down three times applying for her Pennsylvania voter ID card--and every time, she says, the state wanted another document: original birth certificate, original social security card, then her husband's death certificate when a clerk demanded proof of her married name.

After four tries, she got the card but resented the obstacles.

"You feel like, 'Why am I going through all these things?' I am not bin Laden's wife. I've been here all my life. I've been voting since it was legal for me to vote.

Clark's testimony in state court in Pennsylvania represents a growing legal challenge to voter ID laws -- specifically how some states have made it difficult for voters to actually get the cards--especially voters who are low-income and minorities.

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The courts have put voter ID laws on hold in three states so far, with a federal court saying the rules in Texas imposed "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor--and racial minorities (more)...likely to live in poverty".

Democrats believe strict voter ID laws are part of a Republican plan to suppress the vote of minorities. Republicans say the laws are designed to prevent voter fraud, with many including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina asking what's so hard about a photo ID.

"If you have to use picture ID to get onto a plane," she said, "it is common sense that you would use picture ID to protect the integrity of the voting process."

That's what makes the controversy in Pennsylvania all the more important. State officials now say they have relaxed all of the old rules so that any voter who wants an ID card can get one before Election Day. But that may be too late -- the judge has already warned he is thinking about injunction. That is a sign that voter ID in Pennsylvania is in jeopardy this year.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.