The state of Pennsylvania is spending $1 million on advertisements telling voters to show photo identification at the polls in November, despite the fact that there is no voter ID law in effect in the state.
State Senate Democrats have complained that the ads are costly and intentionally confusing voters. Although no voter ID is required to cast a ballot in Pennsylvania, the ad that appears below says explicitly: "To vote in Pennsylvania on election day, you need an acceptable photo ID with a valid expiration date."
Gov. Tom Corbett, who is currently spending $400 an hour in taxpayer money to uphold a gay marriage ban in the state, supports the voter ID ads. The Corbett administration says that the ads are precautionary, in case the vote ID law does go through.
The measure is currently defunct, after a Commonwealth Court injunction was issued leading up the 2012 election.
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While Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said poll officials can hand out written material on the ID law, he explicitly barred enforcement of the law during this election cycle.
“Wasting $1 million to promote a law that is not even in effect is like putting $1 million on my 2-4 Steelers to win this year’s Super Bowl,” said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. “Instead of spending $1 million on a voter education problem that doesn’t exist, we should invest in making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballot.”
Twenty-three Senate Democrats wrote Corbett a letter last week urging him to put an end to the wasteful ads.
“As you are aware,” the letter said, “the constitutionality of the Voter ID law has not yet been decided by the Commowealth Court.”
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“We believe that these dollars could be better spent on efforts to encourage participation in future elections and engage the public more fully in the electoral process,” they added.
“A more prudent use of precious taxpayer funds would have been to inform voters of how they can obtain an ID, without mentioning any identification requirements,” said Sen. Matt Smith, D-Allegheny. “With immediate fiscal needs like Pennsylvania’s transportation crisis, I’m extremely disappointed and troubled by the Department of State’s actions.”