Home » Government & Politics

Voter I.D. constitutional amendment proposed in Pennsylvania

(By Christen Smith | The Center Square) – A pair of Pennsylvania lawmakers said Friday that state residents themselves should decide the stringency of the state’s voter identification law.

The push comes after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he’d never support strengthening existing voter I.D. law – one of the top priorities for Republicans in their election reform proposal unveiled Thursday. 

Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, and Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Williamsport, both support their party’s proposal to require identification each and every time a resident casts a ballot in-person. Current law stipulates identification only for first time voters in a precinct. 

The governor said voter I.D. laws serve only to disenfranchise and vowed, during a news conference Wednesday, to prevent future “barriers to voting” advocated for “by certain bad actors.”

Wheeland and Ward say it’s a matter of enhancing security when faith in the electoral process is at an all-time low among their constituents.

“One way we can help maintain that security is by having individuals show identification each time they vote, instead of only showing it their first time at a new polling place,” Wheeland said. “This legislation would put that question to the voters and let them decide if that is a security measure they would like to put in place for future elections.”

Ward said letting the voters decide the question “removes the politics” from the decision and lets “residents take the lead.”

“Time and again, I hear from constituents who want to know why they need identification to buy cold medicine but not to choose their next Senator, township supervisor, judge or president,” she said. “Providing voters with the power to extend the need for identification beyond the first time someone votes at a polling place to every time they vote will go a long way toward restoring confidence in our election process.”

Constitutional amendments must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before appearing on the ballot as a voter referendum. The earliest the I.D. question could appear before voters would be 2023, if the Legislature acts quickly.

Some constitutional amendments languish the General Assembly for a decade – or more.

Ward described the political climate as the most “charged” in her lifetime and urged “everyone to rise above” the rhetoric and “not fall victim to outside influences trying to stir emotion.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure that voters trust the election process and asking voters decide if requiring identification every time they vote will do just that,” she said.

+ posts

The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States.

The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues. As a result of this approach, our readers are better informed about the focus of state and local government and its cost to the citizens whose tax dollars fund governmental decisions.

The Center Square is staffed by editors and reporters with extensive professional journalism experience. We engage readers with essential news, data and analysis – delivered with velocity, frequency and consistency.

Tell your friends
We'd value your comments on or questons about this post. Please leave one below or send us a note. Your participation makes Gettysburg Connection a community publication.
  • I worked in the PA legislature for ten years and these bills came up often. The thing about voter ID, is what form does it take? If what is required is easy to get, many do not see any harm, (although is is a pain). But, if the ID is difficult to get, then it becomes a voter suppression issue. The consistent truth is no evidence of voter fraud has ever been conclusively established. Otherwise, the various court cases raising the issue would have not been dismissed out of hand. Of course, the reality is that with Guv Wolf, no such law will ever get over the finish line. And, a constitutional amendment is a joke. The constitution is difficult to amend on purpose.

  • >