Pennsylvania’s Voter ID by the Numbers

This week marked the opening of the trial in the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s challenge to the state’s restrictive voter ID law. The trial began with testimony from Ms. Viviette Applewhite, a feisty 93-year-old African-American great-great-grandmother who uses a wheelchair. Ms. Applewhite, who once marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., has voted in almost every election for the past 50 years and cast her first vote for president for FDR. Despite her age and limited physical mobility, Ms. Applewhite traveled two hours from Harrisburg to Philadelphia to testify as to how she may not be able to vote in this year’s presidential election because she does not have has not been able to obtain an acceptable ID under the state’s new law.

As compelling as Ms. Applewhite’s story is, equally compelling are the numbers that came out ahead of the trial. Take the number of instances of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania (the supposed reason for the law in the first place).  That number? Zero. The source for that number? The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Yes, you read that correctly. The week before the trial, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania signed a stipulation attesting to, among other things, that:

•    There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania;
•    The parties are unaware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere;
•    Respondents [Commonwealth of Pennsylvania] will not offer any evidence or argument that in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the photo ID law.

The other key number that came out before trial? The number of registered Pennsylvania voters who are at risk of being disenfranchised because they do not have state-issued ID: more than ONE MILLION. The source for that number? Again, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On July 3, the state announced that almost 759,000 registered voters did not appear in PennDOT’s system (Penn-DOT ID is by far the most common form of ID on the list).  Last week, with little fanfare, the state sent an additional 500,000 plus names to the county boards of elections. These registered voters are people who have PennDOT IDs that expired a year or more ago and are therefore invalid for voting.

So just to review– there are ZERO instances of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, yet the state is willing to disenfranchise as many as a million people or more to protect the “integrity” of the election.

Let’s recall the real motivation behind passing voter ID in Pennsylvania.  If voter fraud isn't a problem in Pennsylvania, why pass such a restrictive photo ID law that will put the votes of so many citizens in jeopardy? Perhaps State House Leader Mike Turzai said it best when listing the accomplishments of this year’s legislative session, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done.”

This is America. We don’t restrict voters’ access to the polls to ensure an election’s outcome. The more Americans participate in the electoral process, the more America flourishes as a democracy. We are in court to protect this fundamental American value and to ensure this is true not only in spirit, but in the letter of the law.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania is one of four groups, including the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Center of Philadelphia, and the Washington, D.C., firm of Arnold & Porter, challenging the voter ID law.

The trial is expected to last until Thursday, August 2. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is blogging daily from the trial at: or follow the ACLU of Pennsylvania on Twitter.

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russel heim

This is ludicrous! Move on ; different Democratic addresses; etc. compalin about the Voter ID law and then tell the people to go get their ID's so they can defeat the PUBS. The law actually is a positive for many people as having ID makes different services available to people that they apparently weren't able to acces previously- everything use of library services; bonus cards for stores;l government services; etc.!

russel heim

This accusation is ludicrous! The people who make this accusation such as the move websites; Democratic spokespeople; etc. complain about the law and then tell people to make sure they are signed up so they can vote for Obama as the cards are free and accesible!
Actually the people should have the card as it makes different services available such as checking accounts; library services; store bonus cards; etc.?


I for One just Moved to PA...I have no Problem with the ID for Voting Law as when I was in Ohio I myself knew of Dozens of People that Voted 2,3 8 or even 12 times because they could and they DID...Get Real 1 Person 1 Vote...


Us democrats are too stupid to obtain an ID. These laws need to be overturned. We need to make stupidity a protected class, because we democrats are very very stupid. Even if we have ID, us democrats are too stupid to find our wallet. We need to stop the stupidity discrimination.


After reading the above "comments," I am doubling my donation to the ACLU. Thanks for all you are doing re the Voter Suppression Laws aka Poll Taxes. One can only hope that people eventually acquire a better understanding of the real political expediency and intentions of such laws and the damage they do to our democracy. Until then, the courts are the only way to deal with these offensive laws, and your efforts in this regard are appreciated.


Thank God for the ACLU and your wonderful work to protect the American voters!...never give up!



An official ID card with my picture on it prevents voter fraud? Nope. My handwritten signature is my best identification.

When I register to vote, the only thing that matters is whether I am qualified to vote. Anyone, before they register, can fake a photo ID card showing that they are qualified and show it when they register. In the end, voter registrars must rely on the say so of the persons coming to register that they are qualified to vote. Therefore, the registering voters must declare under penalty of perjury that they are qualified and then sign their name to that declaration.

When I go to the poll to vote, the only thing that matters is that I am recognized as the same person who registered in my name to vote. Anyone, before they get to the polling place, can fake a photo ID with my name and their photo and then present it when they come to vote, and the poll workers will have no way of knowing that the imposter is not me. On the other hand, no one can fake my signature which I placed next to my name when I registered to vote and which I do again in person when I show up at the poll to vote.

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