Sponsor of Pa. Voter ID Law Says Only “Lazy” People Would Lose Chance to Vote

The sponsor of Pennsylvania's voter identification law says only “lazy” people would be disenfranchised this November by requirements to show photo identification at the polls.

Speaking to Pittsburgh radio station KDKA Wednesday (September 19), Daryl Metcalfe, a House Republican, said no “legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsibility,” would be disenfranchised by the law. But critics argue the law would suppress turnout among thousands of poor, elderly and minority voters — a population less likely to own a photo ID and more likely to vote Democratic.

“As Mitt Romney said, 47 percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors' hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can't fix that,” Metcalfe told a radio host, referring to the GOP presidential candidate's secretly recorded remarks, which have caused his campaign to backtrack this week.

Pennsylvania Democrats are circulating Metcalf's interview, trying to make the case that Republican backers of the law, which remains tied up in court, lack sympathy for those who don't have easy access to required IDs.  

On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court sent the case back to the Commonwealth Court, where a judge last month signed off on the law, saying he was “not convinced that any of the individual Petitioners or other witnesses will not have their votes counted in the general election.”

The Supreme Court instructed the lower court to more fully consider whether the law is ready for its test in November. 

“Upon review, we find that the disconnect between what the Law prescribes and how it is being implemented has created a number of conceptual difficulties in addressing the legal issues raised,” the majority wrote. “We are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials, even though we have no doubt they are proceeding in good faith.”

As Stateline has reported, election officials in Pennsylvania and in other states with new voter ID requirements have faced major hurdles as they prepare for November.

Those who have testified about the law's potential impact on Pennsylvania voters include 93-year old Bea Booker, who lives in a senior center and was too frail to testify in person, and Tyler Florio, a 21-year-old high school student diagnosed with autism, chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Challengers of the law argue those examples show that many Pennsylvanians would struggle to gather the documents required — including a birth certificate — to obtain a valid photo ID, and they would be unable to endure the extra trip to a state licensing center.

The law's proponents say such would-be voters should qualify to cast absentee ballots.

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