Briggs: voter ID law unfair to vets, seniors, minorities


The following just in from the office of State Rep. Tim Briggs, a Democratic lawmaker from Montgomery County:

State Rep. Tim Briggs today voted against a Republican-backed bill that would put needless burdens on registered voters every time they go to the polls.

"This bill has the potential to block thousands of registered voters from being able to exercise their right to vote," Briggs said. "This legislation is not about preventing voter fraud; it's part of a national Republican effort to disenfranchise certain groups of people - seniors, veterans, students and minorities."

Briggs said the legislation (H.B. 934) would make it harder for many Pennsylvanians to vote.

The bill would require all voters in Pennsylvania to present a valid, unexpired government-issued photo identification card at the polls. Current federal law only requires voters to present identification when they vote for the first time in a new election precinct.

Under the legislation, voters who do not have photo ID - seniors who no longer drive, low-income residents who use public transportation, disabled seniors and veterans, and students - would have to go through the time and expense of obtaining photo ID, or would have to vote provisionally at the polling place, then make a trip to the county courthouse to confirm their identity.

In addition, Briggs said the bill would ultimately waste tax dollars. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, nearly 700,000 Pennsylvanians lack photo ID, half of them seniors. Estimates have put the cost of implementing this bill at $10 million.

Briggs said that similar laws passed in South Carolina and Texas have been denied preclearance by the United States Department of Justice on the grounds that the laws are discriminatory. Just yesterday, March 13, a judge in Wisconsin ruled the state's Voter ID law unconstitutional.

Briggs represents the 149th Legislative District in Montgomery County.