Group says 5th Ward leader gave instructions
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG —Voters in a Philadelphia ward were instructed by some Democratic committee members to refuse to show their identification before voting in Tuesday’s primary, according to a nonprofit.
PA Independent obtained a copy of the letter from The Committee of Seventy, a nonprofit that works to ensure open and fair elections in Philadelphia. The group called the letter "irresponsible and troubling."
Poll workers distributed the letters to voters in the city’s 5th Ward, which is in center city Philadelphia.
“I don’t know anything about it, and I haven’t heard anyone complain,” Kaplan said. “It’s not coming from us.”
Zack Stalberg, president and CEO of The Committee of Seventy, said the effort was more than a few rogue poll workers distributing the letter.
“From what we have gathered, they were acting on the instructions of the ward leader,” Stalberg said.
Attempts to contact the 5th Ward leaders were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Kaplan said the actions of a few poll workers would not skew the impact of the new law on voters in the city.
Voters also are concerned about making sure they have the right kind of identification, Stalberg said.
“There has been a steady flow of calls about it this week, in addition to the typical calls about where to find polling places,” he said.
He said the group believes the voter ID requirement is a significant issue, particularly for older voters, low-income voters and students, and officials will be educating voters on the new law through the general election in November.
In an official statement, The Committee of Seventy said the ward leader and committee members are allowed to express their opinion about the law, but should have done so differently.
"A better message, in Seventy’s view, would have been to advise voters that, even if they don’t like the law and hope that it will be struck down by the court, they should make sure to have an acceptable photo ID to vote in the fall — and to give them information on how to get a photo ID if they don’t have one," the group said.