Following last week's announcement that courts , the Democratic Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth has organized a Voter ID Law training to reach out to disenfranchised voters, committee spokesperson Bob Wegbreit told Patch.
"[We want] to make sure every single voter has every single opportunity to vote in November, so we want to put as many people in the field with good knowledge and training to help as possible," Wegbreit said.
Pennsylvania passed a law in March requiring all registered voters to show a before voting. The ruling when Judge Robert Simpson, of Nazareth, Pa., ruled not to grant an injunction that would have halted the law. Pennsylvania's voter ID law is one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation.
The primary goal of the Democratic Committee's training, to be held Tuesday, is to ensure that all committee members can identify disenfranchised voters and provide them with a course of action. But, Wegbreit added, "we realize there's a great swell of interest from the community at large." As a result, the training is open to all registered Democrats.
More than 6,000 eligible voters in Lower Merion and Narberth have drivers' license and voter registration names that do not match, Wegbreit said, citing a list the committee purchased from the state. The list of voters includes former Sen. Connie Williams (D-Delaware/Montgomery) as well as other elected officials and judges of elections, Wegbreit said; the list has not been sorted by party affiliation.
"In some cases, it's very simple—a middle initial versus a middle name, a hyphenation of a married name—but because of the way the law has been explained, we don’t want to take the chance on any single voter," Wegbreit said.
Committee members, Wegbreit said, "will take every measure possible—if it means driving to the PennDOT center, helping voters fill out forms—anything to get [residents] the right to vote."
With more than 6,000 voters in Lower Merion alone who may need correct their drivers' license before November, PennDOT centers across Pennsylvania may be totally unprepared to accommodate the increased workload, Wegbreit said.
The waits at PennDOT centers, particularly those in urban areas where there may be a greater number of disenfranchised voters, are very long—longer than many potential voters, including members of the elderly population, may prefer to wait, Wegbreit said.
"The trick also is that people don't realize this is the governor’s effort to suppress voters," Wegbreit said.
Local Republicans have taken a different view of the issue.
Asked how local Republicans expect to approach a general election conducted under the new law, Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth chairman Lance Rogers said, "I don’t believe that there needs to be much done in this area to accommodate the law. We look forward to an election that’s run on a fair playing field and we’re going to make sure that the law is enforced and that people are required to show ID. To us, it seems commonsense that you should need to show ID to vote."
Rogers said his committee does not have a count of Republican voters who lack proper ID, but added, "We certainly will be putting out notifications and working with Republicans on making sure that they’re aware of the requirements, and if they need help obtaining the photo ID, we will assist them in that process, of course."
The Democratic Committee's Voter ID Law training will be held next Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at their One Wynnewood Road office, at the rear entrance.
The training is free, but those interested in attending should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat, Wegbreit said.
"There’s a lot of anger by the voters at the Republican party for pushing this law through, but from our perspective, we’re just doubling our efforts to make sure everyone can vote in November," Wegbreit said.