Politicos React to Voter ID Ruling
It may be the most important issue in Pennsylvania politics this election, and today, Judge Robert Simpson made his decision to deny an injunction that would prevent the Voter ID law from being implemented this cycle.
The new Voter ID law stands as is for now, and here are some reactions from politicos across the state.
PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason
“Today is an important day for voters in the state of Pennsylvania as the Commonwealth Court’s ruling protects the integrity of our electoral process at every level – city, state and federal. I applaud the Commonwealth Court for displaying courage and conviction in this ruling. With sensational headlines and half-truths about this legislation being touted by partisan critics, we are fortunate that the Commonwealth Court realized that the sanctity of our elections was at stake – and took appropriate action to protect a cherished right.”
PA Dems Chairman Jim Burn
“Pennsylvania Democrats are committed to protecting Pennsylvanians’ right to vote, and we will continue to educate voters about the new ID requirements and the process to acquire an appropriate ID to ensure that all eligible voters can get to the polls and exercise their right to vote in November. For months, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party has implemented programs designed to ensure Pennsylvanians have the proper identification and we will continue our work as the legal process unfolds.”
Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills
“The Allegheny County Democratic Committee and its 2,500+ members will continue to fight for the right of all citizens in Allegheny County to exercise their right to vote in November. We will continue to call and door knock voters to ensure they have the necessary ID, and work with them if they do not. We encourage Gov. Corbett and his Department of State to redouble their efforts on notifying voters if they have an issue and provide a free ID to any voter who may need one.”
Jennifer Austin, Obama for America PA Press Secretary
“Regardless of today’s decision, we remain committed to working with supporters and volunteers across the state to register and educate Pennsylvanians about the Voter ID law. We want to ensure all eligible voters have the information they need to get to the polls in November and exercise their right to vote.
“Since the passage of the law our campaign has included information on the new provisions in volunteer trainings, information resources, online, and in voter registration and education activities, and we will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is important that the Commonwealth follow through on its plan to make available free IDs to any voter who may need them. Regardless of party affiliation, we support ensuring any voter eligible to cast a ballot has the right to do so.”
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Phila, PA-02)
“The right to vote is our most precious right, and it trumps all others. That should be self-evident at this time in our history. But today’s ruling in Commonwealth Court places this pre-eminent right at the mercy of unreasonable burdens on our senior citizens, our college students, on minorities, on those who don’t have driver’s licenses, and those who may have been born in another state where life-cycle record-keeping is, or was, unreliable.
“The plaintiffs, who recognize all these failings, will rightly and promptly appeal. A fair hearing in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court will restore full voting rights to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians facing disenfranchisement.”
Missa Eaton (D-Mercer, Challenger for PA-03)
“The Voter ID law is an incredibly expensive solution for a non-existent problem. The Republicans were caught red-handed on video trumpeting this law, despite the fact that it is an overt political attempt win the election through voter suppression. This law severely threatens the Constitutional right to vote, especially for our elderly, disabled, and students. It is vitally important that we reach out to these groups and ensure that they have one of the six approved IDs to vote on November 6th.”
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montgomery, PA-13)
“It is extremely disappointing that the Court would jeopardize the ability of tens of thousands of registered Pennsylvania voters to cast their ballots this November.The real issue should be how to simplify access to the voting process to engage more voters to come out and cast their ballot. Instead, the Court’s decision today to enable the Governor and the State Legislature to impose greater obstacles to voting defies understanding and is un-American.
“There is much to do in a short time to ensure that voters across Pennsylvania have the information they need and access to the remedies required to allow them to vote this November. This will not be easy. And while civic organizations and campaigns will do their best, it is essential that State offices are available to potential voters to enable them to get the official ID they need to vote.”
Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia, SD-01)
“Today’s deplorable ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Simpson will keep hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians from exercising their right to vote. In fact, according to a recent AFL-CIO study, the highest number of registered seniors who do not have an approved photo ID live my district. This is not over yet, but everyone — Republican and Democrat — needs to act now so they can get their ID in order to cast their vote in November.”
Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia, SD-03)
“I am extremely disappointed in the court’s decision. Pennsylvania does not have a voter fraud issue, but we now have a voter suppression issue. It’s now more important than ever to make sure that every voter is eligible to vote in November’s election, and Philadelphia senators will be making every effort to help all citizens who need proper ID.”
LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia, SD-04)
“This is a very sad day for the registered voters in my district whose votes are at risk because they lack the required identification. The courts are supposed to be non-partisan and protect the rights of citizens, yet this was a partisan decision made without proof of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
“I want to encourage my constituents not to get discouraged by this ruling. Instead, I want everyone to make sure that they take action as soon as possible to ensure that they are not disenfranchised at the polls. Through my Voter Identification Education Initiative, my staff and I have been working tirelessly within our community to help residents obtain and complete the forms they need to get an ID. My offices remain open for those who need assistance with this process.”
Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia, SD-05)
“We should not make it harder for people to exercise their right to vote. The passage of the voter ID measure into law and subsequent court ruling are extremely disappointing because this law was crafted for partisan advantage, rather than voter protection. When laws are crafted for partisan political gain, we lose the public’s trust.”
Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia, SD-07)
“Hundreds of thousands of voters could be effectively shut out of the election process under the guise of voter fraud. Without any evidence of this so-called fraud, this law is nothing more than another way to tip the odds in favor of the Republican presidential candidate this November.This is an extremely partisan law that Pennsylvania is ill prepared to implement. It is my plan to continue to fight this voter suppression law and assist the public with obtaining the necessary documentation to vote in November.”
Tom O’Brien (D-Lancaster, Candidate for SD-13)
“People in this state and elsewhere are sick to death of politics poisoning the decisions that affect their everyday lives. A new, independent study of more than 2,000 election-fraud cases since 2000 found that in-person voter impersonation, which these new ID laws supposedly are intended to prevent, is virtually non-existent, but clearly that doesn’t matter to the politicians who hatched this law. More than 15,000 Republicans age 70 or older may be affected in the 13th District alone, along with nearly 7,800 Democrats and 1,600 Independents.
“Judge Simpson didn’t dispute the fact that there are Pennsylvanians who want to vote who will be impacted at least in some way by his refusal to order an injunction. He didn’t discount the idea that there are young people and seniors and poorer members of our society who will have to jump through hoops to get the documentation they, for the first time, will need to vote. There should be no obstacles making it difficult for a citizen of this state to vote.”
Charles Gehret (R-Montco, Candidate for SD-17)
“Judge Robert Simpson was right to set aside the appeal of opponents to the Voter ID law today and uphold Pennsylvania’s noble move to install more integrity in our electoral process. The vast majority of Pennsylvania residents and most voters in Senate District 17 back this law. Still, Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montco, SD-17) continues to demagogue the issue even after he has been proven wrong at every turn.
“Sen. Leach backs an appeal of Judge Simpson’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – a further waste of time and taxpayer money to potentially interfere in the election,” Gehret said. “Never let it be said that Sen. Leach let logic, taxpayer expense and Democracy get in the way of his far out opinions – ideas he shares with the most radical Americans like Rev. Al Sharpton who do not hold the moderate values of the 17th District.”
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny, SD-43)
“The decision of the court is highly disturbing and disconcerting. Without question, the goal of the voter ID law was to disenfranchise voters and suppress voting so that Republicans could gain the upper hand in this fall’s presidential election. This law was never about preventing voter fraud. The state’s attorneys stipulated that there was no evidence of fraud and witness after witness presented details about the obstacles that they face in trying to comply with the law.
“Taking away a citizen’s right to vote and participate in a democracy is a serious matter. No one who is eligible to vote should be prevented from casting their ballot. The right to vote deserves to be protected and participation should be secured not shredded. That is why I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will step in and restore a person’s right to vote by overturning the ruling of Commonwealth Court.”
Kimberly Villella (D-Beaver, Candidate for SD-47)
“Today the Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of the Voter ID law that could potentially cost as much as $11 million in taxpayer dollars. I am deeply disappointed in the decision because this law is not meant to address any real problem: it was put in place in an attempt to give one political party an advantage over another in November’s election.
“As a business owner, I can tell you that I don’t spend money to ‘fix’ problems that do not exist. I spend money where it is absolutely needed or I reinvest in the continued growth of my business. My opponent, a farmer by trade, most likely applies these same principles to his farm as well. But he, like many lawmakers who supported this, must have forgotten these values when he voted for this bill. I can only hope that the Supreme Court overturns this ruling and strikes down this bill that not only infringes on the constitutional right of Pennsylvanians but also wastes a lot of taxpayer cash in the process.”
Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler, HD-12)
Metcalfe, who was instrumental in passing the bill, talked about voter fraud today, telling WHYY radio that “there’s fictitious voter registrations that have been filed, which result in fictitious individuals being on the voter rolls, which then anybody can vote as that fictitious individual. And you have illegal aliens that are voting, or foreign nationals that are here legally that may be voting that can be prevented through this.”
Audio of the interview was pending as of 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny, HD-23)
“This court ruling represents an injustice for hundreds of thousands of people. The judge disregarded the clear evidence of the disproportionate burden and costs this law places on many people who don’t have an ID that qualifies or all of the necessary documents to obtain one. Worried seniors and others call my office every day trying to figure out how to get the voter identification they need: people with health concerns — everything from simple frailty to recovery from a broken neck — for whom a trip to a PennDOT driver’s license center is a heavy burden.
“The judge also relied heavily on the promised Department of State ID – which still isn’t available. This decision also overlooks the lack of preparedness by the Corbett Department of State…My advice to Pennsylvanians is this: Please don’t wait until the last minute…While I hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will do the right thing with regard to this unjust law, we cannot count on that. I urge any voter with any doubt about his or her ID to check today whether it will be accepted at the polls.”
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny, HD-28)
“The integrity of each and every valid vote was upheld today. As the court said, the requirements of Act 18 will be implemented in a non-partisan, even-handed manner by Commonwealth agencies, and qualified voters will have their votes counted.The many election reforms enacted, including voter ID, are aimed to ensure citizens and registered voters have the right to vote and have their vote counted. It’s about one person, one vote, and each instance of fraud dilutes legitimate votes.”
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny, HD-33)
“Today’s ruling is a travesty not just for those Pennsylvanians whose right to vote will be stripped away by this law but for all Pennsylvanians and all American citizens. A threat to one person’s right to vote is a threat to us all. I sincerely hope the Supreme Court will right this terrible wrong and will overturn this decision in time for the November elections. The commonwealth’s highest court should see what the rest of the nation so plainly does – that this law is a scam.We must remain vigilant, continue to fight and make the case that the right to vote is not just our most sacred as . Americans but also our most fragile. We cannot allow partisan gamesmanship to trump American citizenship.”
Will Sylianteng (D-Montco, Candidate for HD-151)
“I was deeply disappointed this morning when I learned of the Commonwealth Court’s decision to uphold the Voter ID law. This legislation was recklessly passed by the Republican leadership in Harrisburg with the support of Representative Stephens, despite the fact that 3,322 residents in the 151st District will be at risk of losing their inalienable right to vote…Millions of our taxpayer dollars are being wasted to implement this unnecessary and unjust law – money that could be better spent dealing with real issues like education and job creation and solving real problems such as infrastructure development and repair. This Voter ID law is seriously flawed, politically-motivated, fiscally irresponsible and a dangerous piece of legislation that should not be allowed to stand.
“One of the reasons I am running for State Representative is because I feel the 151st district deserves better leadership than we have been receiving. We deserve a voice in Harrisburg who won’t just follow the party bosses by voting for bad legislation which hurts honest, hard-working Pennsylvanians. We have an opportunity to change the way Harrisburg is being run, and I plan to be fighting on behalf of the constituents of my district against the powerful forces which have little concern for our interests.”