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Pennsylvania drops legal fight over voter ID law

A Republican spokesman says Pennsylvania should give up "divisive" fight over voter identification.
By Frances Burns   |   May 9, 2014 at 10:55 AM   |   Comments

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HARRISBURG, Pa., May 9 (UPI) --Gov. Tom Corbett called requiring voters to produce photo ID "sensible and reasonable" as he announced Pennsylvania is dropping its legal fight over its law.

In a statement in Harrisburg, Corbett said Thursday he would work with the legislature to enact a law that would survive challenges. The law passed in March 2012 by the legislature's Republican majority was struck down by lower court judges, and Corbett said the state would not appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"A photo identification requirement is a sensible and reasonable measure for the commonwealth to reassure the public that everyone who votes is registered and eligible to cast a ballot," he said.

Under the Pennsylvania law, voters would have had to show state-approved identification with a photo. The law was never enforced, although voters were urged to bring ID for practice runs with the state running commercials telling Pennsylvanians to "show it" at the polls.

"The governor made the right call not to appeal," Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Republicans in the House, said. "It's time to move away from this divisive issue, ensure stronger voter accountability and better access through changes like online registration."

A number of states have passed voter ID laws. Critics say there is little or no evidence of fraudulent voting, and that ID laws tend to prevent the poor, elderly, and members of minority groups from casting ballots.

Wilola Lee, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said Corbett's announcement made for a "great day." Lee, 61, who has lived in Philadelphia since she was a child, said she was unable to replace her Georgia birth certificate after losing it in a fire and thus unable to get one of the identification cards recognized by the law.

Pennsylvania's law became especially controversial when House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a Republican from the Pittsburgh area, told his party's state committee in June 2012 that the law would help Mitt Romney carry Pennsylvania. Romney lost the state by more than 5 percentage points.

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