News Column

Voter ID Could Stop One in 6 Pa. Hispanics From Voting

Sept. 25, 2012

Michael Hinkelman

ballot box

SAs many as 52,000 of Pennsylvania's 323,000 eligible Latino voters could be stopped from voting on Election Day if the state's new voter-ID law isn't blocked, a Washington-based civil-rights organization said Monday.

The Advancement Project, which released a report Monday on the potential disenfranchisement of Latino voters nationwide, is one of several groups challenging the voter-ID law in state court.

The report found that 23 states have legal barriers that "disproportionately impact voter participation" of Latino citizens and could prevent more than 10 million of them from voting on Nov. 6.

During a conference call with reporters Monday, officials with the Advancement Project said that implementation of the voter-ID law has become flawed and should be blocked.

Penda Hair, the group's co-director, said that PennDOT staff have not been adequately trained to process voter IDs.

"You don't have to pay $13 or have a birth certificate to get acceptable ID," she said, "but many PennDOT staff don't understand this."

Miguel Concepcion, chairman of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights, said: "Whether or not you get voter ID depends on what [PennDOT] office you visit and what day of the week you go."

Neither Hair nor Concepcion could say how many eligible Latino voters -- here or elsewhere in the state -- were unsuccessful in getting voter IDs after visiting PennDOT offices, some on multiple occasions.

"If someone is coming in and actually depicting themselves with proper forms, PennDOT staff have been trained on what to do to issue a voter-ID card," said Nick Winkler, a spokesman with the Department of State.

Last week, the state Supreme Court vacated a decision in August by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. upholding the law and directed him to decide by Oct. 2 whether the state is doing enough to get voter IDs into the hands of voters who need them by Nov. 6. If not, he should block the law, the high court ruled.

Simpson will hear testimony on Tuesday in Harrisburg from voters represented by the Advancement Project.



Source: (c)2012 the Philadelphia Daily News Distributed by MCT Information Services


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