Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Voter: Photo ID law "stupid" in New Hope

Turnout was light, but reaction to the new state law was sharply negative.

Voter: Photo ID law "stupid" in New Hope

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Democratic poll watcher Bert Johnson holds leaflet prepared by the New Hope Democratic Party outlining provisions of the new voter ID law. (Bill Reed/Staff)

After voting at  New Hope Borough’s only polling place, Sally Goodman said the new state law requiring a photo ID “is certainly stupid here.”

“I could see it in a city, where they don’t know who’s voting,” said Goodman, who has voted for 33 years. “But here, they have your signature, they know you, they greet you by name.”

Democratic poll worker Dee Dee Bowman asked Goodman for her photo ID, as she and the other poll workers did for all the voters, as a trial run for the November election.  “I’m not giving it to you,” Goldman responded.

“In the fall, you’ll have to show photo ID to vote,” Goodman was told.

“What if my friend, who is 92, forgets her drivers’ license and can’t vote in November – c’mon,” Goodman said. “Someone will bring her here, but that doesn’t mean she’ll remember her drivers’ license.”

New Hope is a “walking town, and a lot of people don’t drive” or have a license, Goodman said outside the polling place in the borough’s Community Room.

“This [requirement] would be OK for any town with more than 5,000 population,” she said. “How many people vote in this town?

The borough has 1,045 registered Democrats and 626 registered Republicans who were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primaries, plus eight Libertarians and 393 “other” voters.

One woman left without voting because her out-of-state drivers’ license would be rejected in November, said Claire Daniels, a Democratic poll worker.

“She left because she felt disenfranchised,” Daniels said.

“By and large, they’re upset with the new law,” she said of Tuesday’s voters. “The [old] voter registration cards are no good. Why not put a photo on that card?”

Voters were given handouts provided by the county and the New Hope Democratic Party outlining the provisions of the law.

“Most were expecting it, but a few expressed philosophic opposition to the idea,” Daniels said. “Only a few didn’t bring their photo IDs with them.

“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” she added.

Another Democratic poll worker, Kathryn Creek, chimed in, “Voter fraud in New Hope is notorious all across the land.”

Republican poll watcher Cherie Weller said that “a couple of people haven’t been very happy” about the law.

 “A couple came in without photo ID, but they could still vote,” she said. “They were given information and told they would not be allowed to vote in the next election.”

Democratic poll watcher Bert Johnson said the reaction he heard was that the law was timed for the presidential election, while other states set their photo ID requirements for 2014.

“It disenfranchises voters, especially seniors and youths and college kids,” Johnson said.

Photo IDs from out-of-state colleges or that lack an expiration date will be rejected.

“I am opposed to the law,” Johnson said, “but now that it is in place, a lot of education will be needed between now and November.”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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