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Council Wades Into Voter ID

Council President Darrell L. Clarke described the voter ID law today as "ill conceived" and designed "basically to suppress individuals' rights," but he nonetheless vowed that his efforts to educate the public about the controversial new law would remain above the partisan fray.

Some members of Council would team up with the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, he said, to let people know what they have to do to comply with the law, which requires a valid photo ID at the polls.

Democrats fear the law will disenfranchise many of their supporters in the coming Presidential election, and they accuse the Republican-controlled General Assembly of passing the law for that purpose only. Republicans say the law is needed to combat voter fraud.

Clarke was joined at a news conference today -- held on his turf, at the girls gym at Strawberry Mansion High School -- by fellow Council members Cindy Bass, Bobby Henon and Maria Quinones Sanchez, all Democrats. City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who is the Democratic ward leader there, also was present, stressing the non-partisan nature of his job to "certify all the votes."

Then there were representatives from the Senior Law Center, Temple student government and the Hispanic and Asian Pacific bar associations. John Jordan, of the NAACP of Pennsylvania, said he would be testifying tomorrow in the lawsuit trying to overturn the voter ID law.

He described the law as a strategic and well-funded GOP effort.

Clarke said he and likely other Council members would put their campaign dollars and organizations to work, ensuring that anyone who needs help getting a valid ID and complying with the law would be able to do so. The biggest need, for the elderly in particular, appears to be transportation to the necessary state offices.

Clarke said the effort would be done in conjunction with the Voter ID Coalition, and the work would not be performed by city employees.

"If they say they need 20 vans, I'm going to make sure they have 20 vans," Clarke said.

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