How does Pa.'s voter's ID law impact the Amish?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MERCER, Pa. (WCN 24/7- Corey Benedict and Taylor Nichol)-- Election Day 2013 in Pennsylvania fails to spark much attention.  Most races are local and many feature unchallenged incumbants.  For those who do go to the polls, they may be asked for a photo identification.   However, the courts have ruled poll workers cannot require any voter to show it.

Democrats and civil rights advocates continue to challenge the Republican-backed requirement.  While each side debates the merits of the law in the courts, some are wondering what a voter ID law means for a population that does not carry photo ID.  The Amish in Lawrence and Mercer counties do vote.  Will they be asked for voter ID?  When and if the law goes into full effect for future elections, what will it require from the Amish voter? 

While the Amish choose to live separate from the modern world, local candidates do campaign to this unique voting block.  Mercer County Voter Registration and Election Bureau Director Jeffrey Greenburg confirmed that the Amish do vote.

"I don't have any hard numbers; it would be more anecdotal stuff but I can tell you the Amish population does get involved in local, state and federal elections," said Greenburg.  "Candidates campaign and try to get votes from the Amish, no different than others in the community."

amish August (1)

Whether the law will go into full effect is still up in the air.  A state judge issued an order earlier this year that temporaily bans enforcement of the law.  The decision is the third time the courts have stepped in to block the mandate.  However, if the day comes and the law goes into effect, Greenburg says the Amish will not be required to comply.

"If the law is upheld to require a photo ID, the law provides religious exemptions for those who have some aversion such as the Amish to not be photographed," said Greenburg.

Greenburg states that the Amish can use other types of ID to vote.

"A lot of the Amish who are contractors and do that type of work are required to have a non-photo PennDot ID, that is the most common," stated Greenburg.

When it comes to a political party, Greenburg says the Amish tend to identify with a specific choice, although he cannot be sure just how many are registered as Democrats or Republicans.

"I would want to be careful assessing, but typically you find Amish living in areas more likely to be registered as Republican," said Greenburg.

On Election Day in the Wilmington area, do not be surprised to see the Amish turning out to cast their votes on who they believe should serve in public office in local, county and state races.


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Mercer County Elections