Democratic state senators released a report Wednesday that drew on surveys from the April primary election to demonstrate a disproportionate number of poor, elderly and minority voters lack proper voter ID.
While the courts decide whether to issue an injunction against the law that requires citizens to produce a valid form of photo identification to vote, two lawmakers shared a report emphasizing why the law should be overturned.
State Sens. Vincent Hughes (D-7) and Anthony Hardy Williams (D-8) led a conference call with reporters Wednesday to discuss a Voter ID report compiled by the Center for Social Policy Studies at Swarthmore College.
"This confirms what we've been saying all along about this law, which is a failed law. At best, it should be thrown out. And worst, it needs to be" pushed back until after the election, Hughes said.
During the April 24 primary election, Dr. Keith W. Reeves, an associate professor of political science at Swarthmore and director of the Center for Social Policy Studies, surveyed random Philadelphia voters in real-time in 13 wards throughout the city.
According to a news release, "The survey was designed to determine to whether people of color, economically struggling and, or, seniors would be adversely impacted by (the Voter ID Law)... Because primary voters tend to be frequent voters, this served to investigate whether otherwise eligible voters would be disenfranchised by (the law)."
The study found:
- 59 percent of survey respondents reported being asked for an ID
- 4 percent did not possess any required photo ID and all were people of color
- 59 percent reported possessing a driver’s license
- In those surveyed over age 60, approximately half did not possess a driver’s license
Other facts to consider involved those surveyed. Forty-nine percent self-identified as African American and 33 percent identified themselves as white. While that may reflection Philadelphia demographics, U.S. Census data indicates African Americans reflect only 11.3 percent of Pennsylvania's population and whites are 83.8 percent—not a representative selection.
Additionally, while the election was framed as a "test run" and poll workers were instructed to ask for IDs, citizens were not required to show ID. Additionally, essentially zero marketing or community outreach occurred before the primary.
PennDOT announced Tuesday it no longer requires citizens to provide proof of residency to get free IDs. Additionally, PennDOT centers will be open later on Thursdays to accommodate demand.
The senators, however, said those facts indicate how behind Pennsylvania is in issuing IDs.