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Critics of Pa. Voter ID Legislation Say It Causes, Not Fixes, Problems

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Area election officials and voter rights advocates say the photo ID bill currently under consideration by the Pennsylvania legislature (see related story) is likely to create voting problems, not solve them.

That's because the type of voter fraud the bill addresses is not considered a problem by officials in this region we spoke with.

The bill, say its proponents, would prevent someone from pretending to be a voter because everyone would have to present a photo ID to vote.

"It is a phony issue that is manufactured by ideologues on the right," says Montgomery County commissioner Josh Shapiro, who says there's no evidence that this type of voter fraud is a problem in Pennsylvania, given the safeguards that already exist.

Karen Buck, of the Senior Law Project, works with some of the most loyal voters, the elderly.  But they too, she says, will be hurt by the bill.

"Eighteen percent of older Americans do not currently have photo ID," according to Buck.  She doesn't see voter impersonation as a problem.  "One is more likely to be struck by lightning than impersonated at the polls."

Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council Series, "Senior Scams -- How To Protect Your Parents"

Tthe bipartisan County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania opposes the bill. They say it will be costly and cause long lines.

Stephanie Singer, chair of the Philadelphia City Commission (which runs elections in the city), concedes that the city has had cases of voter fraud, but she says the bill doesn't address the real problems that exist.

"If this legislature were serious about it, they would be funding poll worker training, data forensics, aggressive investigation of the voter registration lists," she tells KYW Newsradio.

Singer and Shapiro note that the bill is identical to legislation introduced in many states that was written by a conservative group called ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council.   Voter ID laws in other states have faced stiff legal opposition; recently, similar laws in Texas and Wisconsin have been overturned in the courts.

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