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Allegheny County To File Lawsuit Over Voter ID Law

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Led by Allegheny County councilman John DeFazio who chairs the County Elections Board, that board is expected to file a lawsuit to block the state's new voter photo ID law.

The action comes at the behest of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald -- also on the elections board -- who said the county is ill-equipped to enforce this law at all its voting places.

"Our workers, the board members you go and see every time you vote at your local polling place, are being asked to do things that, quite frankly, they are not going to be able to do when it comes to ID requirements, when it comes to really disenfranchising people. So we don't have enough time to really try to put this in place," Fitzgerald said at a press conference Friday afternoon with city, county, and local state officials present.

Fundamentally, the Democratic elected officials see this as a Republican effort to deny legitimate voters the right to vote when there is no evidence that voters have been impersonated at the polls.

"There really is no problem. You know how this town goes. If that would be a problem, it would be on the nightly talk shows every night," said DeFazio.

County officials see it as a partisan Republican effort to disenfranchise the elderly, the disabled, the poor, veterans, students and African Americans.

"We have fought hard and long to have the right to vote and that should not be disenfranchised," said Ed Gainey, a Democratic candidate for state House.

"These folks didn't have ID and they wanted to know if their senior center ID would be enough to allow them to vote," added city councilman Bill Peduto.

Local Democrats hope to block this new law in court.

"That's what's being perpetrated here is a partisan attack to steal an election this November," declared PA Rep. Dan Frankel, a Squirrel Hill Democrat.

Fitzgerald claims the law is also an unfunded state mandate, requiring local taxpayers to pay for an unnecessary requirement.

County councilwoman at-large Heather Heidelbaugh, the third member of the County Elections Board and a Republican, questioned the need for this lawsuit since there is already another one pending in Commonwealth Court brought by the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations.

She says the county should not file a similar lawsuit at taxpayer expense when the county has its own financial issues.

The elections board meets next Tuesday afternoon to vote on whether to file the lawsuit.

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