HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has approved the so-called Voter ID bill, setting the stage for Pennsylvania to become the 16th state to require voters to show photo identification at the polls.
The House on Wednesday voted 104-to-88 - and almost strictly along partisan lines -- to pass the measure, which would be in effect in time for the fall presidential election.
Gov. Corbett has said he will sign it "right away."
Democrats, civil liberties groups, labor unions, the NAACP and others have complained that the bill will disproportionately hurt the elderly, the poor and the disabled, who make up the lion's share of voters who typically do not have photo IDs. Those groups also tend to vote Democratic.
Other states with voter ID laws have been facing legal challenges. In Texas, the U.S. Department of Justice's civil right division on Monday objected to a photo voter identification law because it found it would have a greater impact on Hispanic voters. As a state with a history of voter discrimination, Texas is required under the Voting Rights Act to get advance approval of voting changes from either the Justice Department or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Also Monday, a second judge in Wisconsin struck down that state's voter identification law, calling it unconstitutional because it would restrict the right to vote. That came less than a week after another judge ordered a temporary injunction on it.
And in December, the Justice Department rejected South Carolina's voter ID law on grounds it makes it harder for minorities to cast ballots. It was the first voter ID law to be rejected by the department in nearly 20 year.
In Pennsylvania, the ACLU, as well as Democrats in the Senate, have said they will challenge the bill in court as soon as it becomes law.
The bill would mandate that voters show a photo ID such as a driver's license; a student, county, or municipal card; or IDs from a personal-care home.
If voters show up without a photo ID, they would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and then would have six days to present election officials with an acceptable ID.
The state Department of Transportation would also be required to issue free identification cards to those who apply and swear they had no other acceptable proof of identity for voting.
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