WEST ORANGE, NJ - NJ Citizen Action (NJCA) held a news conference on Thursday at the John P. Renna Senior Citizen's House in West Orange to draw attention to legislation that could affect the November elections. Jeff Brown, Policy and Communications Coordinator for NJCA, Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) also addressed the audience, which was largely comprised of reporters and senior citizens, about the potential implications of legislation now being implemented across the country. 33 states have enacted stricter voter ID legislation, including New Jersey, and 10 states, including Pennsylvania, will require particular voter ID for the upcoming election in November. Although individuals in those ten states may be long term registered voters, they will be required to show current government-issued/approved photo IDs.
According to Brown, under the new voter ID law in Pennsylvania, 45% of registered voters will lack the proper ID to vote in November. He said 25% of 'super-voting' seniors, or those that have voted faithfully for 50 years or more, will be denied their ability to vote. Overall, across the United Staes, 11% of the entire registered voting population (21 million) would lack acceptable photo IDs. In New Jersey, where Senator Christopher Connors of Ocean County (R) has introduced Senate Bill 200 to enact similar legislation in the Garden State, an even higher percentage would be ineligible due to state demographics.
Assemblyman McKeon further noted that unless the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturns the legislation, it has been estimated that 758,000 individuals would not possess the required IDs (a current passport, driver's license, or government issued photo ID) for the November elections, with 200,000 in Philadelphia alone. Concern for voter fraud seems to have triggered the legislation, though studies in Florida have shown that between 2008-2011, 'shark attacks outnumbered the number of voter fraud cases' 79-42. (Source: Politifact). Rep. Joseph Walsh (R-Illinois) has also introduced a nationwide Voter ID Bill.
McKeon said that should federal legislation be approved, up to 80 million Americans would not be eligible to vote, although registered to vote. He reminded the crowd that President Obama was elected with 70 million votes. He expressed concern over the 'veiled attempt to disenfranchise voters" that may "vote a certain way."
Assemblywoman Jasey spoke of the many senior citizens and urban residents that do not possess current driver's licenses, especially seniors, that may not be aware an expired license is not acceptable. At agencies where passports, driver's licenses and government issued photo IDs can be processed (e.g., the United States Postal Service and Department of Motor Vehicles), cutbacks have affected accessibility. Cost is also a factor, especially for seniors and the economically disadvantaged.
Towards the end of the press conference, Brown, McKeon, and Jasey were joined by Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Newark, Belleville) and Congressional Candidate John Arvanites (D), who both supported the position that Americans should not be denied their right to vote because they do not have a current government issued photo ID.
For more information, please visit www.njcitizenaction.org.
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