Michigan and Pennsylvania Battle Voting Laws

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A few states have added their own wrinkles to the new laws. Florida, for example, eliminated voting on the last Sunday before Election Day. In 2008, the bulk of Florida’s black voters cast ballots on that last Sunday, propelled by “Souls to the Polls” initiatives by the state’s black churches.

In Texas, a student photo ID from the state-funded University of Texas is insufficient to vote but a Texas concealed gun license is sufficient proof of voter eligibility.

Like in Florida and Texas, Pennsylvania’s legislature approved a new photo ID voting law that Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration insisted would only be potentially problematic for only one percent of the Keystone State’s 8.2 million voters.

But The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday that more than 758,000 registered voters – 9.2 percent of the registered voting population – don’t have photo identification cards needed from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, making them potentially ineligible to vote this November.

The biggest problem area appears to be Philadelphia, a city with a large black population. According to The Inquirer, 186,830 registered voters – 18 percent of the city’s total registration – don’t have PennDot-issued driver’s licenses on non-driver photo ID cards.

The state law accepts various forms of photo ID including U.S. passports, student ID with expiration dates, and current military ID. But the PennDot-issued photo ID is likely to be the most widely-used.

Pennsylvania House Republican leader Mike Turzai, speaking at a state Republican meeting in June, seemed to confirm what many foes of the new voting laws believe: that they are naked efforts to thin Democratic votes.

“Voter ID – which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done,” Turzai said.

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