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Treasurer McCord: Governor Should Not Appeal Voter ID Ruling

HARRISBURG, PA--(Marketwired - January 23, 2014) - State Treasurer Rob McCord today called on Governor Tom Corbett not to appeal the Commonwealth Court decision that a law requiring Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification at the polls is unconstitutional.

"The governor should finally accept the court's finding that there is no evidence of in-person fraud that threatens the integrity of elections in Pennsylvania, and he should not try to revive a statute now declared unconstitutional. Governor Corbett and his team provided a solution in search of a problem. At this point he should admit his mistake -- and commit his administration's efforts and our public dollars to solving real problems."

Invoices submitted to Treasury indicate that the Corbett Administration has spent $6.5 million in federal and state funds on the law that has now been found unconstitutional. About $5.6 million was wasted on advertising and voter education campaigns for an ID requirement that was not actually in effect. Of that, slightly more than $1 million was state money.

Corbett spent another nearly $1 million in state funds for outside legal counsel to defend the law, in addition to resources used by the state Office of Attorney General.

"I call upon the governor not to appeal the ruling. For the public good, Governor Corbett should resist the temptation to be defensive and self-justifying. Instead of ringing up legal fees to defend a bad law that has been ruled unconstitutional, Governor Corbett should use those resources to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians," McCord said.

By way of example, McCord noted that for the approximately $2 million in state money already spent, the state could have afforded:

  • 31 public school teachers for one year at an average cost of $62,648 per teacher;

  • 365 students getting pre-kindergarten instruction, at an average cost of $5,474 per student;

  • 519 people getting health care coverage, at the average AdultBasic cost of $3,853 per person.

During 2012 and 2013, the Department of State paid, in combined state and federal funds, $3.437 million to Harmelin Media, $1.853 million to Redhouse Communications Inc., and $309,885 to Bravo Group Inc. to inform voters about the law. In 2013 and 2014, the administration billed $942,790 for the law firm Drinker Biddle and Reath.

Corbett has said he is considering asking Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley to reconsider his ruling, and is reviewing the judge's legal opinion to determine whether or not to appeal.

The requirement that voters present photo identification at their polling place was passed by the legislature and signed by Corbett in 2012. A number of civil rights groups challenged the law, claiming that it was being used as a means of voter suppression and could not be implemented fairly.

For more information, visit www.patreasury.gov.