Huffpost Politics

Larry Maggi, Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate, Could Lose Vote Under Voter ID Law

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A congressional candidate in Pennsylvania may not be able to vote for himself in the November elections, thanks to one of the country's most stringent voter ID laws.

Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi's driver's license lists his full name as "Lawrence Owen Maggi," but his voter registration reads "Larry Maggi" -- a small but significant discrepancy under Pennsylvania's new voter ID regulations. They require the name on the voter registration to "substantially conform" to the name on the driver's license.

The disparity in Maggi's names caught the attention of Pennsylvania's Department of State, which notified Maggi in an advisory letter, according to the Observer-Reporter.

Maggi, a Democrat running for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, is now pushing back with a new website called "Let Larry Vote" that highlights his potential problem at the polls given the voter ID crackdown.

"Larry's voter registration reads 'Larry Maggi' while his driver's license 'Lawrence Owen Maggi,'" a welcome message on the new website says. "That's enough for the GOP to challenge, and potentially deny, Larry's right to vote."

The Observer-Reporter reported Friday that Maggi's predicament is not unique: Washington County Elections Director Larry Spahr had to revise his voter registration to delete his middle initial, which does not appear on his driver's license.

Maggi could be joined by more than 750,000 Pennsylvania voters if they do not act to comply with the voter ID law, according to a study released earlier this summer by state officials.

The law is currently being challenged in state court, and the Justice Department's civil rights division is investigating whether it violates the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Despite sparse evidence that voter fraud exists -- Pennsylvania could not provide proof prior to the ongoing trial -- GOP-led state legislatures passed voter ID laws claiming to curb alleged deceit at the polls. Democratic lawmakers counter that their Republican colleagues will suppress the vote among minority groups, whose turnout could decide the presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania.

Earlier this summer, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) raised eyebrows when he declared at a Republican activist gathering that the voter ID law is "going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania," referring to the presumptive GOP nominee.

"Objectively speaking, it's going to be harder than it has ever been before to vote in Pennsylvania," Ellen Kaplan, vice president and policy director of the Philadelphia-based Committee of Seventy, said in an MSNBC segment Friday. "There is no question about that. They are going to be people who are going to arrive at the polls and won't have heard about the law, and they don't understand why for the first time they're not allowed to vote because they don't have an ID with them."

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