Norristown Patch talked to several area residents and local and state politicians today about Pennsylvania's Voter ID law, which survived a legal challenge brought by voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP. Judge Robert Simpson ruled he will not grant an injunction against the law and the case is expected to go the state Supreme Court on appeal.
Residents we talked to were split on the matter, with some expressing concern over the ability of some voters to gather the necessary documents and procure the ID and others adamant that a Voter ID was a good idea and those who needed it have ample time to get one. At least one resident conceded he could see both sides of the issue. [See our video for some of the reactions from area residents.]
Norristown council members also weighed in on the Voter ID law.
"What it does is disenfranchises the moderate to low income voters. It takes the 'liberty' right out of their hands and strengthens social class warfare," said Norristown Municipal Council President Gary Simpson in a statement emailed to Norristown Patch. "Today is a sad day..." [.]
"The real problem is that people that do not currently have a state-issued photo ID may not have the proper documentation at their fingertips (social security card or birth certificate) in order to get such an ID," said Councilwoman Dr. Mary DeSouza. [.]
"It is unfortunate that the law was upheld because it negatively impacts some voters; especially seniors," said Councilwoman Linda Christian. "I have been out on the street speaking to voters, and a few of the long-time voting seniors feel insulted that they have to now show ID at a polling place where 'everyone knows their name.'" [.]
State lawmakers also shared their opinions on the state law.
"It's disappointing," said state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th District). "Mostly for the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who will be disenfranchised by this. But it's important to remember everyone always knew this case was going to the state Supreme Court regardless of how Judge Simpson ruled."
"I'm hopeful that the state Supreme Court will do what the courts have historically done," continued Leach. "Which is protect political minorities from efforts by political majorities to steel their votes. This is nothing new in this country. The courts have repeatedly stepped in to stop this; whether it's the poll tax or literacy tests or other ways that people tried to disenfranchise voters. I'm hoping the court performs [its] historical role this time and we'll have a hopefully positive decision by the Supreme Court shortly."
State Representative Mike Vereb (R-150th District) insisted that the law was not meant to disenfranchise anyone.
"This perception that has been created, primarily by the Democrat organization, that somehow the big, bad Republicans want to just eliminate their right to vote... the court said that's not what's happening."
"I can speak for myself and tell you that if at any time I was under the impression that anyone from the governor all the way down was proceeding with this law to infringe on someone's voting rights, I personally would have been very vocal about it and I would have voted no," Vereb continued. "I suggest we focus on getting folks their ID and proper credentials to be able to vote. That's our goal – get people to vote."