HARRISBURG– State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., today voted against a bill that she said harkens to the years before the federal Voting Rights Act. After extensive debate, the House voted 108-88 in favor of a bill that would require voters to show photo identification in order to be able to cast their ballot at the polls.
“It’s disappointing that my colleagues who voted for this measure went along with a thinly veiled, nationally organized scheme to suppress the vote of seniors, women and those living in more urban areas,” said Youngblood. “This legislation, which was approved mainly on party lines, would require anyone who does not have a photo ID, usually a driver’s license, to go out and get one in order to vote. It is especially outrageous because in urban areas like ours, a lot of people rely on public transit and don’t have a driver’s license.”
The bill would be particularly unfair for senior citizens who no longer drive and have surrendered their license.
“Seniors have to go through the hassle of somehow getting a photo ID. If they don’t they’re going to turn up at the poll and be denied, or have to file a provisional ballot and travel to the voter registration office within six days to validate it,” Youngblood said. “A lot of these people have voted in every election for decades.
“I guess since the Republican Party has attacked Medicare and gone after Social Security, they know that seniors will remember that as they head to the polls,” she said. “No wonder they are trying to suppress their vote through this legislation.”
Youngblood said that in their zeal to pass the repressive bill, Republicans denied amendments that would grant a photo identification exemption to senior citizens and current or former members of the military. Youngblood added that the Republicans also denied amendments that would have educated the public on the changes to the law, as well as provide notice in other languages, including Spanish.
“If this isn’t about suppressing the vote, why would they not want the public to know of these changes,” Youngblood said. “The claim is they want to protect the credibility of voting, yet Pennsylvania has had only four instances of vote fraud since 2008, and those involved individuals, not some evil conspiracy. This bill will encourage seniors and other members of the public to stay home on Election Day, and it will deny thousands of Pennsylvania citizens their right to vote.”
Youngblood added that implementing a photo ID requirement for voting would cost $10 million.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.