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Group Rallies in Philadelphia To Publicize, Criticize Pennsylvania's New Voter ID Law

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A voters' rights group held a rally today at a Penndot driver's licensing center in center city Philadelphia, to get the word out about the new voter ID law.

"It is the state's responsibility to fulfill the promises it made when it passed this law," says Philadelphia city commissioner Stephanie Singer, who thinks that thousands of Philadelphians could be affected by the new law which requires citizens to present a photo ID in order to vote.

Singer says the problem will be making sure the state tells voters where and how to get a free photo ID.

"They have not yet issued a decisive list of exactly which IDs are appropriate for voting and which are not," she tells KYW Newsradio.  "They need to make sure that Penndot is doing what it is supposed to be doing under the law."

Philadelphia NAACP branch president Jerry Mondesire says the goal of the coalition's effort is to find kinks in the system.

"We want to show the public that it's going to cost a lot of money, a lot of man- and woman-hours to process all these non-driving photo IDs.  They say it's going to be 'free,' so we are going to test the system," Mondesire (wearing cowboy hat in top photo) said.

So far, the system appears to be working.   Tina (below) says getting her free voter ID at the Penndot Center at 8th and Arch Streets was fast and easy.

tina gets voter ID _gregg
(Credit: Cherri Gregg)

"I gave my name, I gave my number.  I stood in line, they gave me what I needed. I was in and out in 20 minutes," Tina said.

Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams (D-Phila.) says even if the process is easy, forcing citizens to go through the hassle of getting a photo identification disenfranchises voters:

"In order to get your license, you have to pay for something like a birth certificate in order to get the license.  So to say it's 'free' is duplicitous.   It's not free -- it's going to cost you time to get here, it's going to cost you money to get the supporting license.  So it's not free."

Williams says it could cost the state up to $11 million to provide citizens with free photos IDs, money he says the state just does not have.

Mondesire says the NAACP and other groups are gearing up to file a series of lawsuits across the state.

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