Going along with , State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-7) and Shirley Kitchen (D-3) opposed a Republican-backed bill to require voters to produce photo identification.
The State Senate approved the bill in a 26-23 vote March 7. Both local senators from Roxborough and Manayunk spoke out against it.
“Voting is a constitutional right. Under the guise of preventing voter fraud, this bill would actually suppress the right to vote for many eligible voters in Pennsylvania who do not have a photo ID,” Hughes said in a statement. "House Bill 934 is a costly solution, looking for a virtually non-existent problem."
Kitchen agreed with his comments. In a speech on the Senate floor, she cited unnecessary costs for poor citizens to transport themselves to DMVs to secure new IDs or to pay for birth certificates.
"Poor people cannot afford to keep having these new laws costing them money. What are we doing? We are cutting every program to make poor people independent to put more money on their table. And, we have the audacity to say that this is... solving a problem," she said.
Senate Republicans asserted that even voters without valid ID wouldn’t be turned away on Election Day. Instead, they can cast provisional ballots and will have six days to produce IDs.
Additionally, the bill will allow registered voters without valid identification to obtain a non-driver photo ID from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for free.
"This is a simple, common-sense measure to protect the integrity of the voting process, the very foundation of democracy," Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R-9) said in a statement. "This measure will significantly increase confidence in the fairness of Pennsylvania elections without causing a true hardship for anyone."
Both local senators called the bill a form of disenfranchisement.
"The poor are the most disenfranchised of voters. So this can't be checking voter fraud if these people" aren't voting enough to begin with, Kitchen said.
According to Hughes, only four cases of voter fraud were reported in Pennsylvania in the 2008 presidential election.
“The sad fact is that this bill isn’t about protecting the integrity of elections,” Hughes said. “It’s about disenfranchising people and suppressing voter turnout, plain and simple. With very little evidence of voter fraud, this bill is completely unnecessary.”
To read the vote recap, .