Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards said Thursday that the county intends to do "whatever is necessary" to comply with the state's new Photo Voter ID law, which was signed into effect by Governor Tom Corbett on Wednesday. Corbett's signature came just hours after the bill passed by a mostly-partisan 104-88 vote in the state's House of Representatives.
Richards, speaking in her capacity as chairperson of the county's Board of Elections, said she had "concerns about the constitutionality" of the new law.
"I'm particularly concerned about its impact on the elderly, [people with] low income, and people with disabilities," Richards said.
Richards said the Board of Elections expected "long lines" at polling places and that it would be watching for evidence of "discrimination that may come into effect because of this law."
"We'll be making sure that everyone who wants to vote in Montgomery County will be able to do so," Richards said.
Shapiro: "Confident" law will not take effect
Richards's fellow commissioner Josh Shapiro voiced much stronger criticism of the new law, calling it "wrongheaded" and saying he was "confident" it would be overturned.
"I voted against this legislation when I was in the House. I think it is designed, as evidenced by the [previous] states that have adopted it, to provide political gain to one party over the other at the expense of many in our society, particularly the most vulnerable," Shapiro said.
Shapiro praised State Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-12) for going against most of his Republican colleagues and voting against the legislation. Greenleaf's son, Stewart Greenleaf, Jr., is the Montgomery County controller.
"I am confident that suits will be filed, legal action will be taken, and I am hopeful that, as has been the case in three other states so far, the courts will overturn this law or at the very least block its enforcement," Shapiro said.
"You should have stayed in the [state] Legislature," joked Commissioner Bruce Castor. "I told you all last year."
Castor suggested that the April 24 primary election could serve as a bellwether for how the new law will affect waiting times at polling places, allowing for procedures to be "streamlined" prior to the general election in 2012.
Though the law has already gone into effect, photo ID will not be required during the primary election. Voters in the primary will be "reminded" that a photo ID will be needed for the November general election, the governor's office said in a statement.