By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The “Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition” says it will keep up its efforts to get every voter a photo ID. They’re happy about today’s Commonwealth Court decision (see related story) but remain concerned about the law’s impact.
There was applause but not quite jubilation when the coalition got the news this morning that photo ID cards would not be necessary for next month’s election.
Volunteers barely had time to absorb the news before the warnings against complacency began.
“The worst thing that could happen is if people get relaxed or feel victorious,” Committee of 70 executive director Zack Stalberg told the group. He says the best response to the law — which most coalition members view as an attempt at voter suppression — is still a big turnout.
“What we want to do is get as many to the polls as possible and send a message in that way,” Stalberg said.
Rev. Robert Shine promised a big effort from his group, the Philadelphia Black Clergy, which is also planning a watchdog effort at the polls.
“We want the people to be there in the event there is any impropriety that might occur,” he said.
Shine expects a lot of confusion after all the changes that the law and the courts have generated.
That’s also a concern for the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the case. They say they’ll be watching to make sure the state pulls its public service announcements that say photo ID is required next month, and to make sure that all poll workers are trained about this latest ruling.
At a City Hall press conference this afternoon, Stephanie Singer (right), chairwoman of the City Commissioners who oversee elections in Philadelphia, says her instructions to poll workers in light of the ruling will be to prepare voters in case the law is in effect next year:
“We will be asking our poll workers to do what they did in April, in the soft rollout (see related story), which is to ask people for voter ID but not to require it for people to vote on the machines, and to give information to people who don’t have an ID for the November election.”
Singer was joined by Jerome Mondesire of the local chapter of the NAACP, who minced no words about his view of the ruling.
“This is a victory today for the people, and a loss for those scheming and lying legislators in Harrisburg who thought they could hijack the presidential election,” Mondesire said.
Mondesire also called on the Pennsylvania Department of State to immediately stop running television and radio ads explaining the voter ID law, so that voters are not confused into thinking an ID is still mandatory.