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Allegheny County Elections Board Votes To Challenge Voter ID Law

The vote to sue was strictly along party lines.

By a 2-1 vote, Allegheny County’s election board has decided to file a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law. 

The two Democrats, board chairman John DeFazio and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, voted to sue, while Republican Heather Heidelbaugh voted against the measure. 

The results of the vote were hardly surprising. 

The law, sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, requires voters to show photo identification before they vote at the polls. After a dry run in the April primary, it is scheduled to take effect for the Nov. 6 general election. 

The new Voter ID Act requires each elector who appears to vote to first present proof of identification and requires that local election officials verify the proof of identification. 

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am absolutely opposed to the Voter ID law, but this meeting is about something different entirely,” said DeFazio.  “Beyond the unfunded mandates being put on the county for implementation of this law, there are other requirements that are being put on the county that are inappropriate and unlawful.” 

In a statement released prior to today’s vote, Allegheny County Council’s Republican Caucus issued a highly critical statement of the Democrats' challenge. 

“It’s a dangerous precedent when special interests and party politics come into play regarding elections,” said Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park. “We have all taken an oath to obey the laws and Constitution and I would ask all elected officials to get serious about working on real issues that affect our collective taxpayers.” 

“There is nothing outlandish or outrageous concerning having an ID. It’s hard to believe that having something so fundamental and simply following law (that of having an ID to vote) would cause Allegheny County Democratic officials so much angst,” said Councilwoman Jan Rea, R-McCandless. “Voter identification to prevent fraud is a simple process. Allegheny County should be fully prepared to implement this new law.” 

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner argued on Friday that the law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution and federal laws guaranteeing free and equal access to the polls while placing an unfunded mandate on county taxpayers.

“No elected official in our democracy should prevent citizens from voting,” Wagner said in a statement on the Allegheny County website. “We will not stand for this in Allegheny County, and we will not stand for this in Pennsylvania—our nation’s birthplace. 

Heidelbaugh said the county’s lawsuit would ultimately amount to a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. 

“The ACLU has already filed such a lawsuit which will be tried shortly in Harrisburg,” she said. “The ACLU has some fine lawyers and they don't need Allegheny County to file another lawsuit over the same issue. Perhaps the individuals promoting this lawsuit could just personally donate to the ACLU to cover the cost of their lawsuit and we can keep precious Allegheny County dollars at home."

Do you agree with the decision to challenge the new voter identification law? Tell us in comments below.

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knf35 June 24, 2012 at 01:23 AM
You need photo ID for so many other things, why not voting...it will sure cut down on folks that like to vote twice.
DG June 25, 2012 at 01:07 PM
This is no surprise, the DNC says jump and Democrats say how high.. Can't understand how anyone could be againest reasonable measures to keep the voting process free of fraud. It might put ACORN like organizations out of business.
Ed June 25, 2012 at 01:49 PM
What has become of the conservative (blue dog) democrat that was prevalent in this area until about 5 to 10 years ago. It seems that the far left wing (San Francisco values) has taken over the party. Why is the Democrat party positioning itself as a party that can't win an election fair and square by fighting this ID requirement? How can anyone say that there is no fraud if there is no way of checking whether there is or isn't. A comparison of the election with and without ID might shed some light as to whether there was fraud or not. The Allegheny county democrat leadership is a great disapointment and needs to go ASAP.
Jeffrey Fulmer June 26, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Where's the evidence of fraud? How bad is it? No one seemed real concerned back in 2000, when fraud allegations helped W take the White House. Of course that went to a Republican and that's perfectly OK. PA is making people pay for an ID acceptable to vote, and sorry folks, that's a much a poll tax as the ones collected in the past to deny African-Americans the right to vote.
Ed June 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM
New Voter ID Law Proof of identification for voting purposes. If a voter does not POSSESS PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION FOR VOTING PURPOSES as defined at section 102(z.5)(2) of the Pennsylvania Election Code (25 P.S. § 2602(z.5)(2)) and requires proof of identification for voting purposes, the following applies: You must declare under oath or affirmation by completing the Oath/ Affirmation Voter ID form that you do not possess any of the following forms of identification: In particular, -Identification issued by the United States Government that includes my name, a photograph, and an expiration date that is not expired.* - Identification issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that includes my name, a photograph, and an expiration date that is not expired (unless issued by the Department of Transportation, then the expiration of the identification cannot be more than 12 months past the expiration date). - Identification issued by a municipality of this Commonwealth to an employee of that municipality that includes my name, a photograph, and an expiration date that is not expired. $13.50 fee for acquiring an Identification Card will be waived for individuals completing the Oath/ Affirmation Voter ID form. All identification documentation is still required to obtain an Identification Card as follows:
Ernie June 26, 2012 at 07:47 PM
What a bunch of baloney. There is just about Zero official business you can conduct in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the country without proper identification. Put away the useless rhetoric about african-americans and poll taxes and try to give some adult reasons proper identification should not be required to vote????

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