Pa. Lawmakers Hear Stories of Philadelphia Election Day Chaos Caused by Voter ID Law
By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of Pennsylvania legislators today heard testimony from watchdog groups and voters on the state’s new voter ID law and problems it may have caused at the polls on Election Day 2012.
The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee heard testimony from a half-dozen voters and community groups, including the NAACP and the League of Women Voters. All who testified gave accounts of confusion at the polls about voter ID and the identification requirements for first-time voters.
“For election administrators, the voter ID law pretty much was a nightmare,” Philadelphia city commissioner Stephanie Singer told the committee. “It was an unfunded mandate with extremely short deadlines.”
Singer says a data error likely caused thousands of registered voters to be left off supplemental poll books, which led to the filing of a large number of “provisional” ballots.
“The most maddening thing about this is that voters could look themselves up (in voter registration rolls) on their smartphones and there they are,” said Advancement Project attorney Marian Schneider. “Then they would go inside (the polling location) and they wouldn’t be in the poll book.”
State representative Vanessa Lowry Brown, who chairs the committee, says they will use evidence from the hearing to create a proposed package of legislation that will include laws dealing with early voting, same-day registration, absentee ballots, and online registration. She says House Democrats also hope to launch an Election Day investigation.
“We need to form a commission that will look at what happened in the polling place, what happened with the transfer of information,” she says.
Brown says proposals will also include an overhaul of the state’s election code, which she says hasn’t been updated since 1937.