Government
5:38 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Frankel Announces Package of Bills to Lessen “Damaging Effects” of New PA Voter ID Law

Even as Pennsylvania's Voter ID law goes through legal challenges, one lawmaker is introducing a package of bills aimed at "fixing" parts of the bill. The so-called "Every Voter Counts" package contains three parts. The first part would create an online voter registration system. The second would require the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to use new technology and mobile outreach to help registered voters obtain needed photo identification.

"They would go into communities, into senior centers, go to places where people with disabilities congregate, go into distressed areas and rural areas where people need to obtain these voter IDs," said Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny).

The third part would address the step that many need to take to get ID: obtaining a birth certificate. In Pennsylvania, the cost to get one is $10, but if someone was born out of state, the costs go up, and can be prohibitive for some.

"That amounts to a poll tax for many people, in my view," said Frankel. "In other words, you're going to have to pay something in order to get the right to vote. That's not constitutional. So my bill would reimburse everybody up to $50 for the cost of obtaining their birth certificates."

Frankel said the Every Voter Counts package is an effort to mitigate some of the potentially damaging effects of the voter ID law, but also to "bring Pennsylvania's voter registration practices into the 21st century."

Similar voter ID laws have passed in other states. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett and other supporters of the measure maintain it's needed to prevent voter fraud, namely, people posing as somebody else to go to the polls and vote.

"That just doesn't happen," said Frankel, "and it certainly doesn't happen in a way that thousands of people are in a conspiracy to try this type of voter impersonation. It doesn't happen in Pennsylvania and it doesn't happen elsewhere."

Frankel said he's still looking for cosponsors for the Every Voter Counts package, and so far he said no Republicans have added their name to the list. With the presidential election less than six months away, Frankel said the hope is that these yet-to-be-introduced measures will be considered quickly in the Republican controlled House and Senate.