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Pennsylvania governor signs voter ID law

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett [official website] signed [press release, PDF] a bill [HB 943 materials] Wednesday to require photo identification from voters in the upcoming November election. The bill was passed earlier Wednesday in the House of Representatives [official website] by a vote of 104-88. Supporters of the proposed legislation say that it will combat voter fraud, but opponents fear that it will disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters who may find it difficult to obtain a photo ID. Unlike the current trend of voter ID laws, however, Pennsylvania's allows voters to vote without an ID as long as they verify their identity within six days of voting. Absentee ballots will also only require identification by Social Security number. On the passage of the bill, Corbett said, "I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote. It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections." The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania [advocacy website] is preparing a legal challenge [press release].

There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, but the issue remains controversial. Earlier this week a Wisconsin judge permanently enjoined [JURIST report] that state's voter ID law. Last month the Virginia Senate approved a voter ID law [JURIST report]. Also in February South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed suit against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over its ruling that barred South Carolina [JURIST reports] from enforcing its voter ID law. In November Mississippi voters approved a ballot measure [JURIST report] to implement a voter ID law. In June Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo ID at voting booth. Last March the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law requiring voters to present one of six government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. In contrast, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October 2010.

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