The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania condemned a voter ID law passed by the state legislature on Wednesday as a waste of taxpayer money.
“At a time when we need to focus on creating jobs and getting the economy back on track, Pennsylvania Republicans have spent significant time trying to disenfranchise voters at a cost of $11 million to taxpayers,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn. “Today, Republicans passed this misguided legislation. It is an unnecessary and costly piece of legislation that is truly a solution a search of a problem.
The law requires voters in the state to present a photo ID when they cast ballots in federal, state and local elections.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimated the legislation would cost $11 million. In order to withstand legal challenges, the state must provide photo IDs for free, notify and educate voters about the new voting restrictions, hire more election staff, and purchase additional photo ID equipment.
“Republicans should have spent their time working on legislation to create jobs instead of engaging in a political power grab,” Burn added. “Despite the Republicans’ attempts to silence voters, Democrats will ensure that every voter in Pennsylvania will have their voices heard in 2012 and beyond.”
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would sign the bill into law.
Republicans claim voter ID laws are necessary to prevent widespread voter fraud, but there is no evidence of such a plot against American elections. Instead, ID laws have been empirically demonstrated to drive down the number of votes (PDF) cast for Democrats by minorities, students, the poor and the elderly, who are less likely to carry a photo ID.
Voter ID laws have been shopped in numerous states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a little known conservative lobbying group funded by wealthy interests, which purports to write bills for lawmakers.
So far, eight states have passed voter ID laws, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has placed them squarely in his sights during an election year fraught with partisan politics.
Woman casting a ballot photo via Shutterstock