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Voters, party leaders on the Main Line torn on new ID law

Elizabeth Ness could only think of one word to describe the new voter identification law: discriminatory.

"It's going to reduce the number of people voting for one reason or another," Ness, 85, said. "It's just plain unfair."

Ness said she barely got the proper ID in time for the April 24 primary. The Wayne resident was in rehab for three months for an injury in her leg, and had registered to vote in Montgomery County's Harleysville, where she was staying. When Ness learned she was going to get finish rehab in time to vote from her home in Wayne, she had just enough time to scramble for a new photo ID.

"It was a bloody nuisance," Ness added.

Asking any elderly Main Line resident his or her feeling on the new voter ID law will likely  elicit a response similar to Ness', but more than a fair share of residents had no problem expressing support for the controversial law.

"I think it's a great law and we should all be for it," Haverford resident Robert Hinckle said proudly after casting his vote.

The Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth Area Chair Lance Rodgers said he hadn't come across any complaints or issues regarding the voting law. Like Hinckle, Rodgers supports the ID law, especially with the amount of time provided voters have to obtain their IDs before November's election.

"It's 2012, and few people in this day and age walk around without some form of ID," Rodgers said in an interview this afternoon. "In our voting system, there's much more disenfranchisement if someone votes more than once than if someone has to show ID before they vote."

Rodgers added that he and The RCLMN were more than happy to help voters with any issues they have relating to the ID law, in addition to noting that those who have a problem with new procedure also have the option of voting absentee.

Mark Taylor, recently elected chair of the Democratic Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth, unsurprisingly felt the complete opposite.

"The law is specifically designed to try to suppress the turnout of at least relevant voters from a number of groups, such as the elderly, minorities or the disabled," Taylor said.

"There are those for who every year, a relative or somebody close to them drives them and helps them to the polls because they want to vote, voting is something they've done their entire lives," Taylor said of elderly and disabled voters. "It'll be really interesting if after [today] there are a number of people in their 80s who get a hard time trying to vote."

Like RCLMN, Taylor said the DCLMN are using the law's dry run to keep track of those with ID issues, so they can help educate them on the law and help them get the IDs they need before the election in November.

Haverford couple Carl and Connie Beresin had they proper ID for the primary, but still opposed the law.

"We have our licenses, but that doesn't make me feel any less bad about the people who are going to get disenfranchised from this law," Connie said.

"It's absolutely disgusting," Carl Beresin added.

Some voters such as a Wayne resident who would only identify himself as "Mondie," 84 years old, aren't fazed. As Mondie stood outside the Wayne Senior Center, he laughed off the law.

"I didn't even have to show my ID," Mondie said. "Everyone in there knew me. I got to perform my privilege and duty to vote."