President Obama’s campaign doesn’t want to risk that confusion about the suspended voter ID law will impact turnout in Philadelphia. It recently began running a radio ad in the Democratic stronghold that makes it clear that photo ID is not required to vote.
“You do not need an ID to vote in Pennsylvania,” states the announcer in the ad, while directing first-time voters (who, per previous law, do need to present some form of ID) to call an information line.
The ad primarily features a recording of speech by First Lady Michelle Obama in which she reflects on the progress made by the Obama administration and encourages voter participation by emphasizing the impact that individual voters can make in a close election such as this.
It comes on the heels of radio, print, and television advertisements from the Pennsylvania Department of State informing voters of the new option to show a photo ID before voting.
Critics have said the updated PA Dept. of State ads are misleading by using phrases such as “If you want a voice, if you want to make a difference, then show it.” They were created to reflect the updated policy that while voters will be asked to provide photo ID before voting, it is not required that they do so.
There is concern that such advertisements do not do enough to inform voters that showing photo ID is optional, and may in fact dissuade potential voters without photo identification from coming out to the polls at all.
The photo ID requirement (signed by Governor Corbett in March) was suspended when Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ordered a preliminary injunction. This occurred after the law was originally upheld in August, but due the question of “liberal access” posed by civil rights organizations, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent the ruling back to Judge Simpson for review.
Evidence that minorities and Philadelphians disproportionately lacked ID was part of Simpson’s rationale for the injunction.
While the October 2nd injunction prevents the Voter ID law from being enforced during this presidential election; the law’s mandates will be put into place over an extended timeframe and are expected to apply to all elections after November 6th.