Activists Fight Hard to Save Voting Rights at Lobby Day in Capitol
By Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA

AcornbyPACapitol.jpgFebruary 2, 2006 ­ Dozens of activists from Pittsburgh, Allentown, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Franklin County converged on the Pennsylvania Capitol yesterday to urge State Representatives to defeat HB 1318. Many groups and organizations were represented on the buses arriving from both sides of the state. Citizen-lobbyists visited offices of state representatives, senators, Governor Ed Rendell, and Lt. Governor Katherine Baker Knoll to call for the defeat or veto of this restrictive bill that, if passed, may prevent many honest people from voting. The citizens also observed debate on the bill in the state House of Representatives, and held a rally with numerous representatives and senators participating.

Unfortunately, despite the good work of all the citizens and activist groups, HB 1318 was passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives yesterday along strict major party lines 106-95, and returns to the Pennsylvania Senate for a new round of consideration.

The HB 1318 bill, which began last Spring as a relatively minor election reform bill regarding candidates running for office, was marked up by the PA House in June with several restrictive amendments including those requiring Photo ID for all Voters and increasing the time that persons convicted of felonies could not vote in Pennsylvania.

HB 1318 was passed by the PA House with these provisions added which would serve to make voting less possible for poor, handicapped, elderly, and minority voters. The bill went on to be amended over the summer and fall by the Pennsylvania Senate, with the Senate removing many of the House's most restrictive clauses.

Since its return in November to the PA House with the Senate's changes, HB 1318 was re-amended back to its restrictive form, new provisions were added, and it was passed as-amended yesterday.

HB 1318 will now go back to the Pennsylvania Senate. It is hoped that the Senate will have the wisdom to again remove the onerous restrictions on voting, but how long will this game of back-and-forth political football continue?

Stay tuned, as the Pennsylvania capitol building just might become the Super Bowl.



Photos from Lobby Day:





Tim Stevens of Pittsburgh's Black Political Empowerment Project addresses the rally.






In Governor Rendell's Office