The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 9, 2012

State senators explain their votes on voter ID

SELINSGROVE -- The two state senators who represent the Valley voted in favor of a bill to require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification before they can cast ballots, both noting there are few actions today that don't require some such proof.

State Sens. John Gordner, R-27 of Berwick, and Gene Yaw, R-23 of Williamsport, both cited keeping the integrity of elections intact and avoiding voter fraud among reasons for their "yes" votes for House Bill 934. It passed 26-23, mostly along party lines, in the state Senate on Wednesday after several hours of debate.

Pennsylvania is following a national trend in adopting the bill, Gordner said Thursday after the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce awards lunch at Susquehanna University.

Indeed, if Gov. Tom Corbett signs the bill -- his administration favors it -- the commonwealth will become the 16th state to have a voter ID law.

"Banks, hotels, travel, there are few places where you don't need a photo ID anymore," Gordner said.

Because Pennsylvania will adopt the law in a federal election year, Gordner said the state qualifies for a federal grant, as much as $4 million, under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that can go to defray costs of implementing the law.

Estimates for putting the law into action here have varied from $4 million to $11 million.

"Once (the law) is signed, we will apply and use the funds to educate voters and poll workers" about the change, Gordner said.

Those funds also could cover the state's expense for photo identifications issued free of charge to anyone who asks for one at a state driver's license center. Carol Aichele, Pennsylvania's secretary of state, said this could cost the state about $1 million.

The bill goes before the state House to approve amendments the Senate made, Yaw said. Among its actions, the Senate broadened what is considered an acceptable photo ID.

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