(The Center Square) — An election advisory committee took an agnostic stance on voter ID policies.

Should the General Assembly pursue it, the Election Law Advisory Board said Wednesday it will offer guidance on how to improve the policy. If not, they won’t recommend any new rules.

Given the newly divided legislature, however, a once viable constitutional amendment to enact universal voter ID seems now seems dead on arrival. Even so, the board said the policy presents challenges.

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Jonathan Marks, deputy secretary for elections and commissions at the Department of State, called voter ID “largely a solution in search of a problem” and argued that a list of acceptable IDs should be “as broad as possible, including digital IDs.”

Notably, House Republicans authored an election reform bill in 2021 that required voter ID — with an expansive list of acceptable forms. Voters could also sign an affidavit in the absence of identification, The Center Square previously reported.

Pat Christmas, chief policy officer of the Committee of 70, said the status quo is that voters don’t have to show ID unless it’s their first time in a precinct. He supports affidavits as an alternative to ID, too. 

“Critical for it to be a policy that won’t disenfranchise folks,” he said.

Voter ID isn’t a top priority for the better-governance group, but Christmas said they want rules “that would minimize disenfranchisement risk.”

Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz argued, however, that a vote submitted with an affidavit gets counted and cannot be separated, even if the voter is later disqualified.

“The only way this works is to have that person vote provisionally so that vote can be adjudicated as to whether or not they were a legal voter,” he said.

Critical for it to be a policy that won’t disenfranchise folks.

More provisional ballots, however, could mean more work for county election workers, Christmas said, along with the potential for making mistakes.

“The points I’m arguing are to absolutely minimize … the chance that we disenfranchise anybody, including through procedural mishaps,” Christmas said. “Every little procedure we add on increases the risk that someone slips through the cracks or because of a poll worker error.”

Kantz and Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Jonestown, also cautioned against digital IDs and preferred provisional ballots for voters who didn’t bring proof of identity.

“I would be opposed to that at this time just because some agencies we’re relying on already … are not yet — if the federal government comes out with a digital passport — well, ok,” Diamond said. “But at this point, I would have to say we shouldn’t be looking at the digital option.”

Kantz viewed voter ID as a way to instill more confidence in the electoral process and keep citizens engaged.

“I hear more and more people say ‘I’m done with voting because I don’t trust our system.’ I hear that every single time,” Kantz said. “I think we are limiting those voters every time we don’t come up with a solution like voter identification that instills trust in the system.”

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

One thought on “Election advisory board agnostic on voter ID”

  1. Agnostic (n): from Greek agnostos “unknown, unknowable” HOWEVER, “The agnostic does not simply say, ‘I do not know.’ They go another step, to say, with great emphasis, that you do not know.” [Robert G. Ingersoll, “Reply to Dr. Lyman Abbott,” 1890] BULL MANURE… because do know. We all know that to imply showing an ID to cast a vote might be too difficult is really to imply people may be too stupid, or poor, or face a language barrier (yet somehow, these same people passed a citizen test) is actually just racist, elitist, completely false, phony, and mostly a Democrat position. Here are 22 instances where government requires a photo ID: 1) to buy alcohol, 2) open a bank account or carry out any type of transaction, 3) apply for food stamps, 4) apply for welfare, 5) apply for Medicaid and social security, 6) rent or buy a house, 7) rent or buy a car, 8) fly on an airplane, 9) get married, 10) purchase a gun, 11) adopt a pet, 12) apply for a hunting license, 13) rent a hotel room, 14) apply for a fishing license, 15) buy a cell phone with ongoing monthly plan, 16) pick up prescription medicine, 17) win a large prize at a casino, 18) pull a permit from a municipality (hold a party, or parade, etc.), 19) enter a bar, 20) buy tobacco, 21) donate blood, 22) apply for unemployment benefits.

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