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Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Comes Under Federal Scrutiny

The Keystone state hasn’t yet approached the bench in a legal battle over new voter ID laws, but the plaintiffs already have some federal allies in voicing their objections.

Civil rights groups will argue in a state trial starting this week that Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law disenfranchises African-Americans, students, and the poor. Some estimates suggest nearly 1-in-10 voters in the state could be impacted by the new legislation, which may be why the Justice Department has launched its own investigation, calling for Pennsylvania’s data on registered voters and proof the state is making a concerted effort to educate the eligible on new restrictions.

Voters show identification as they sign in to vote during the Republican primary election April 24, 2012.

Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Who might benefit from disenfranchising African-Americans, students, and poor people, you ask? State House Majority Leader and Republican Mike Turzai gave a recent hint, saying the new law “is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Meanwhile, President Obama, of course, will potentially be aided by the Justice Department’s investigations into state voter ID restrictions. And here we were, naively assuming civic engagement was to be encouraged no matter what your political stripes.

Video by Paca Thomas.