Despite public efforts to educate, the state's new voter ID law remains controversial and confusing to many.
"With all the information from around the country regarding what Republicans have been doing to change the law, I would hope it has become obvious that the GOP is trying to steal the election or suppress the vote or both," state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said. "There is absolutely no justification for this law. It addresses voter impersonation, which doesn't even exist."
Pashinski said the new law will block access to the election booth to thousands of senior citizens who no longer drive, young adults, people with disabilities, the working poor and others.
"For the 10 percent of Luzerne County voters without a valid photo ID, gathering the documents to obtain an ID and traveling to a PennDOT office, perhaps more than once, is difficult," Pashinski said.
Support for the law
Brian Carso, associate professor of history and government at Misericordia University, has a different viewpoint. He said obtaining a valid photo ID is neither burdensome nor unreasonable.
"You need a photo ID to do just about anything these days," Carso said. "Photo IDs are required to cash a check, to rent a hotel room, to purchase Sudafed, or to get on an airplane. It's not unreasonable that you should have to present a photo ID to vote."
Carso said opponents claim a photo ID can be too expensive or difficult for some to obtain. He said the state must make getting the required ID easy for everyone.
Carso added, "The idea that we should keep some primitive system of requiring just a signature to vote seems a little bizarre for 2012."
On college campuses and elsewhere, activists are working to educate potential voters.
Katie Kelly, an 18-year-old freshman at Misericordia University, said Thursday she decided to register to vote in Luzerne County at a campus voter registration event.
She was among the 130 students who had registered to vote in the first day and a half of a two-day signup.
The "Go Vote" effort was coordinated by Trisha Brady, Ph.D., a pro rata faculty member in the English Department, who organized the team of faculty and student volunteers to provide registration information.
Brady believes the new Voter ID law will disenfranchise young, elderly, minority, impoverished and pedestrian voters.
In Lackawanna County, 13-year-old Tyler Kusma tried to organize a rally against the law at Connell Park.
Kusma's appeal didn't attract any marchers, but his efforts have already borne fruit. The Abington Heights Middle School student has collected 400 names on an electronic petition against the law.
It urges Lackawanna County Director of Elections to "just say no to enforcing the Voter ID law to the fullest extent of your legal authority." While Luzerne County elections officials were not mentioned in Kusma's petition, acting Director Tom Pizano said, "Whatever the law of the land is," that's what Luzerne County will follow.