Pennsylvania unions blast new voter ID law

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania has become the latest large state to enact a so-called “voter ID” law, and it would deprive 700,000 people of the right to vote, thus drawing a blast from the state AFL-CIO.

The GOP-run state legislature rushed the law through during the week of Mar. 12-16, and GOP Gov. Tom Corbett signed it “even before the ink dried” that Friday night without any public ceremony, the state labor federation said.

Corbett’s law is similar to voter ID laws pushed elsewhere by the business-right wing cabal nationwide that also wages war on workers. The voter ID laws are designed to disenfranchise groups of people whose votes would threaten the cabal’s corporatist, anti-worker agenda. Pennsylvania’s law would hit senior citizens, the disabled, and lower-income workers without a state driver’s license, the federation says.

“Corbett’s action last night, in signing this legislation, reflects the unpopular and undemocratic ideas that suppress the right to vote,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale declared.

“His signature places unreasonable and unnecessary barriers on the right to vote for our most vulnerable citizens. He should be ashamed, not only by his association with this bill, but by hiding it away before citizens of our commonwealth knew what hit them.”

Like their colleagues in other states, Republicans pushing the bill through the Pennsylvania legislature argued the voter ID law would prevent vote fraud. But a state association of county commissioners “found no evidence there is fraudulent voting that showing a photo ID would solve.” The counties also estimated it would cost $11 million.

“This law is not about voter fraud, it’s about passing flawed policies that are unpopular with the majority of Pennsylvanians,” Bloomingdale added.

By contrast, Corbett has done little to save jobs of refinery workers around Philadelphia, the fed said. Two major oil companies have closed or will close three refineries, resulting in drastic drops in supplies of gasoline, jet fuel and other distilled petroleum products. The closures will cost 2,500 Steelworker jobs.

A GOP-run U.S. House subcommittee held a hearing on Mar. 19 on national security implications of the refinery closures, but did not invite worker representatives to testify. Two Obama administration witnesses joined two oil industry trade groups. Said state fed Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder: “Sadly, many of those thousands of unemployed workers in the past year are direct casualties of this (Corbett) administration’s failed policies.”

Photo: At last November’s Occupy Philadelphia rally. Ben Sears/PW.




Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.