By Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Voters in the Harrisburg area gave mixed reviews of Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law on Election Day.
The state joined dozens of others by passing a law in March that requires voters to show a photo identification before casting a ballot. But state courts issued an injunction last month that suspended the law at least temporarily, meaning voters did not have to prove their identities at the polls.
Voters in Pennsylvania were asked, but not required, to show a photo ID before voting on Tuesday. That will change when the law takes full effect next year.
In Cumberland County, Ross Gahagan, a Republican voter, said he saw no problem with asking for ID before allowing people to vote.
“I gladly showed them my ID,” he said. “I think you should have to show ID if you’re going to do something as important as voting.”
Opponents of the new law said it would disenfranchise minorities, students and the elderly — groups that may not have photo IDs. Those same groups tend to back Democrats — leading to allegations that the measure was politically motivated.
But supporters of the law said showing identification is just a part of modern life.
“I think it’s fine to ask people for ID,” said Jenny England, of Harrisburg.
She pointed out that birth certificates are necessary to sign kids up for Little League, so it makes sense to show a drivers’ license before voting.
Mary Settle, also of Harrisburg, said the requirement limited the ability of some legitimate voters.
“We’re supposed to be able to vote and not have any restrictions on our voting,” Settle said.
Other voters said the new law was a political move by Republicans to keep some Democrats from the ballot box.
“I think it discourages people from voting,” said Bruce Krane, a resident of Camp Hill in Cumberland County. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”
Jonathan Rudy, a resident of New Cumberland, said Republicans would have benefited from the law if it was in place this year. But he ultimately agreed with the courts, which suspended the voter ID law for this election but will allow it to take effect starting in 2013.
“I think they should have voter ID, that would be great,” Rudy said. “But let’s do it next year, rather than this year, like (Republicans) tried to do.”