Government
8:40 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

DeFazio: Voter ID Requirement Forces Allegheny County to Break Federal Law

Allegheny County's Board of Elections will likely vote in favor of a lawsuit against the state's new voter ID law. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats on the board are hoping to strike down a law that requires photo identification to be presented before Pennsylvanians can vote. However, the board's lone Republican said the lawsuit is redundant, expensive, and politically motivated.

Board of Elections Chairman and County Councilman John DeFazio (D-At Large) said the new law is costly and ill-timed, requiring the county to retrain its elections employees before the November 8 general elections.

"There's nothing concrete [in the bill] about getting paid for all of this extra training and money it's going to cost us," said DeFazio. "There's nothing definite on that yet for the county, if we're going to get all this money back."

However, Board of Elections Member and Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh (R-At Large) said the "unfunded mandate" argument is not a strong basis for a lawsuit against the state.

Heidelbaugh said many state laws require counties to retrain employees for new regulations.

Heidelbaugh called Allegheny County's lawsuit repetitive and redundant, because the American Civil Liberties Union has already challenged the voter ID law. She said she's not sure Board of Elections Democrats even have the authority to file a lawsuit without the approval of the full County Council.

DeFazio said he personally believes the law is warrantless, because he said voter fraud is not widespread. Other Democrats have also complained that the voter ID law puts a burden on Pennsylvanians, particularly poor people who often vote Democratic.

DeFazio and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald constitute a Democratic majority on the three-member Board of Elections; Heidelbaugh is the lone Republican on the board.

Pennsylvania is one of fifteen states to enact a voter ID law.