NJ Today with Mike Schneider

Democrats Oppose Voter ID Laws Like The One Upheld In Pennsylvania

NJTV / NJ Today With Mike Schneider — Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron files this report from West Orange.

At a senior citizen apartment building that also serves as a polling place, Democrats and New Jersey Citizen Action warned against the type of voter ID laws being adopted by other states.

Yesterday, a judge in Pennsylvania upheld a new law there requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID. Some say the laws disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and people of color.

"The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO across the river in Pennsylvania recently did an analysis of the Pennsylvania law, which is a strict voter ID law much like the bills that have been introduced in New Jersey," said Jeff Brown of New Jersey Citizen Action. "And they found that as many as 45 percent of registered voters in some districts lacked the proper ID to vote, as many as 46 percent of seniors in some districts lacked proper ID to vote."

Seniors who don't drive anymore and urban dwellers who use mass transit are especially likely to lack a photo ID.

"There are 21 million Americans that don't have photo IDs. Eighteen percent of them are seniors, 25 percent — one in four — are African-Americans, 20 percent are students," said Assemblyman John McKeon. "So two-thirds of that number are from constituencies that are frankly likely to vote Democratic."

Three Ocean County Republicans have introduced a voter ID law in New Jersey, but it's unlikely to pass with Democrats in the majority in both houses.

This is an issue that Democrats are trying to highlight heading into the presidential election. If 21 million eligible voters are without proper photo ID, they think that's a lot of potena votes lost in the nine states with strict voter ID laws.

Among the elderly, there could well be confusion about what constitutes a valid driver's license.

"Is it expired? And the answer was, 'Well, yeah but it's still me.' And guess what? It would not satisfy the requirements of the voter ID law that was upheld in Pennsylvania yesterday," said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.

One resident of the senior building has a valid license, but not all of her neighbors do.

"I know it's gonna be a problem here because there are a lot of seniors that can't get out to go have government ID taken," said Michaelina Formato.

Concerns about voter suppression are gaining traction in Democratic circle as this year's election draws near.

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