Pennsylvania House Republicans say it’s time for Pennsylvania to require voters to show ID before they cast their ballots, and on Monday they announced plans to file a discharge petition to get it done.

The GOP’s goal is to get an amendment to the state’s constitution on the ballot for this November’s election, over the objections of the House Democratic leadership.

“The 2024 election is going to be one of the highest turnout elections in Pennsylvania history,” said House Republican Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster). “Putting a voter identification constitutional amendment on the ballot for this November guarantees that the most voices have a say in this very important issue. More than likely any other time in the next few years.”

Discharge resolutions give the minority party the chance to force a vote on a bill that’s been stuck in a committee. Under rules set up last year, 50 House members — 25 from each party — must sign a discharge petition to move legislation to the floor.

Cutler said that support for Voter ID is bipartisan and he noted that 22 Democrats have previously supported the measure. Those Democrats include Delaware Valley Reps. Melissa Cerrato and Joseph Ciresi of Montgomery County, Bucks County Rep. Tina Davis, and Rep. Paul Friel of Chester County.

“We need three more reasonable Democrats to come forward to join us,” Cutler said. “To get this important constitutional amendment out of committee and onto the floor for a vote.”

Rep. Kristen Marcell (R-Richboro) said the legislation “not only proposes a constitutional amendment to allow citizens the chance to vote for this mandate but also ensures that financial barriers to obtaining an ID are eliminated. This bill is about empowering voters and strengthening the integrity of our electoral process.”

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware), on the other hand, expressed pessimism that the discharge petition plan would work.

“Once [Democrats] came into power, [Leader Rep. Matthew] Bradford and [House Speaker] Joanna McClinton changed the rules to make it nearly impossible to discharge something out of committee,” he told DVJournal.

“I think this is an important moment,” said Williams on Voter ID. “It will be very clear that one side believes very much that somebody showing up to the polls or sending a mail-in ballot ought to be a qualified elector and the other side would rather not have people putting their noses under the tent.”

House Bill 891 would require that those wishing to vote “present a valid identification” before casting a ballot. Those who wish to submit a mail-in ballot shall “provide proof of a valid identification” with the ballot.

Republicans said that the proposed constitutional amendment is common sense.

“You need photo identification to sign up for a library card or apply for a marriage license, but not to vote in Pennsylvania,” said Republican State Government Committee Chair Brad Roae (R-Erie). “So, if your polling location is in a library, make sure you bring identification in order to be able to check out books, but don’t worry about needing it to vote. The vast majority of people agree about the need to show identification to vote. It’s time to put it in law.”

What’s more, Republicans swear that voters would get every opportunity to get an ID.

“Our legislation would allow for photo and non-photo IDs to be accepted, making sure that no one who is eligible to vote will be barred from obtaining identification,” said Rep. Thomas Kutz (R-Cumberland, one of the prime co-sponsors of the constitutional amendment. “We also support making ID cards free so that cost is not an obstacle to voting, either.”

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans support the push to enshrine Voter ID in the state constitution.

“We also remain very consistent and clear on the value that we hold election integrity in our caucus,” said Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana). “Putting Voter ID in front of the voters is certainly a very fair request on our part. And we will continue to make it.”

Republicans argue that ID requirements are more necessary than ever now that House Democrats want to change voting rules to allow same-day voter registration at the polls and voters to cast ballots in person during the two weeks before an election.

Polls consistently show that Pennsylvanians favor voter ID requirements.  A Franklin & Marshall poll from 2021 said that 74 percent wanted voters to show an ID before casting a ballot. This included 47 percent of Democrats and 95 percent of Republicans.

A 2022 poll from the Commonwealth Foundation found that 70 percent of those surveys supported Voter ID. This included 91 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of Democrats, and 70 percent of Independents.

More recently, 66 percent told the Commonwealth Foundation that Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.) should support Voter ID legislation.

“Voter identification laws are a simple, popular, and effective way to enhance election integrity,” said Andrew Holman, a policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Pennsylvania is one of only 14 states that doesn’t require voters to show identification, and since 2018, three states have amended their constitutions to require voter identification. Multiple studies show voter ID laws have no effect on voter turnout or election outcomes, and polling shows voter ID laws have widespread support.”

Getting an amendment added to the Pennsylvania Constitution isn’t always easy.

Both the House and Senate would need to approve the Voter ID before the Secretary of State’s Office would also have to write the ballot language. The General Assembly would need to pass the amendment again before it ends up on the ballot.