Advocates say Pa. slow on voter ID re-education efforts
October 17, 2012By Emma Jacobs
"There's no excuse for continuing to tell voters that they'll need photo ID to vote on Nov. 6, when it's false."
-- Ben Geffen, attorney, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Earlier this month, a Commonwealth Court judge put a hold on Pennsylvania's voter ID law until after the upcoming general election.
Attorneys who fought to block the law now say the state has not done enough to let voters know they won't be required to show photo ID at the polls.
Telling voters they don't need ID
Pennsylvania had launched a massive outreach effort to publicize the law's requirements, paid for with $5 million in federal funds.
Now, Pennsylvania must do more to inform voters that the law will not be in place, says Ben Geffen, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
If the state doesn't act swiftly, he says, it risks discouraging people without photo IDs from going to the polls.
"We've heard reports that there are billboards, that there are ads on buses all over Pennsylvania, that radio and TV spots have confusing wording that still give people the impression that the photo ID law is in full force," Geffen said Wednesday.
At the polls
Per a fairly complex ruling by Judge Robert Simpson, poll workers can ask for photo ID in November, but voters will not be required to present one to cast a ballot.
"There's no excuse for continuing to tell voters that they'll need photo ID to vote on Nov. 6, when it's false," says Geffen.
Misinformation also has come from non-government sources. At least 1.3 million PECO customers received a newsletter saying that they must show ID at the polls, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Geffen says it's up to the state to lead the re-education campaign.
No word from state officials
The Department of State has revised its television ads, but a department representative could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the issue.
The second part of the legal challenge to the voter ID law, contending the law violates the state Constitution and should be thrown out entirely, is on the docket for December.