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Candidates for 40th PA Senate Race Answer Your Questions About New Voter I-D Law, Red Light Cameras

Final part of a series: Patch took your questions, and those of our editors, and submitted them to the two candidates in the race to fill the unexpired term of former senator Jane Orie.

Democrat and Republican  are running in the Aug 7 special election to become the next state senator in Pennsylvania's 40th district. The winner will complete the term of former , who was convicted and sentenced to prison for using her state paid staff to do campaign work.

Recently, the readers of the North HillsCranberry and Pine-Richland Patches were asked to submit questions to both candidates. The three editors of those Patch sites assembled those questions, and added a few of their own, for the candidates.

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What is your position on the State's tightening restrictions on requirements to vote?

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "It’s important to protect the cornerstone of our Democracy and to maintain an open and honest process. One person, one vote."

Dr. Sharon Brown: "The Corbett/Vulakovich Voter ID law was passed to cheat honest Pennsylvanians out of their vote. Before passage, the proponents claimed it was necessary to stop voter fraud, yet the Pennsylvania Attorney General has prosecuted not one instance. Before passage, the proponents claimed that very few Pennsylvanians would be affected; however, late on July 3, the Corbett/Vulakovich administration sent out a press release saying that more than 750,000 honest Pennsylvanians could find themselves unable to vote. And after passage, in front of the Republican State Committee, GOP leader Turzai bragged that the new law will 'allow Romney to take Pennsylvania.'

This is about fraud, but it’s a fraud against the voters, not by the voters. Our nation’s proud history of expanding the right to vote – to women, African-Americans, and 18 year olds – is being destroyed. And the same people who fought so hard for their right to vote are the ones most likely to be turned away at the polls.

Elections should be about ideas and policies, not dirty tricks. It is my fervent hope that our democracy will prevail, and the courts will strike down this sham." 

What is your position on all employers being required to include access to birth control in their medical benefits? (That's access, not a requirement to use it.)

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "This is a contract issue that’s up to the employer and the contracting insurance company."

Dr. Sharon Brown: "Healthy women mean healthy families and healthy communities. And birth control is a key part of women’s health care. More than 90% of women will use birth control at some time in their lives. Requiring employers that provide insurance coverage for their employees to provide for coverage for birth control is the right thing to do. The employee, if uncomfortable with the option for whatever reason, has every right to refuse that benefit." 

What is your position on the installation of automatic ticket issuing red light cameras?

Dr. Sharon Brown: "Red light cameras for tickets are not new, and have had a varied and sordid past.  In California, for example, the increased issuance of tickets due to “unverifiable photos” resulted in an increased number of cases being thrown out of court because the photos being used were clearly inadequate in proving that an infraction had actually occurred. Unless the technology has improved drastically, I would not be in favor of using this very expensive, but ineffective, deterrent."

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "My general position is that I’m opposed. They absolutely can be abused as an easy money-maker for municipalities. I did not vote for the new expansion bill for the red light camera program. That being said, as a former police officer I have seen the tragic results of serious and fatal vehicular accidents. If there was, for example, a notorious intersection identified by law enforcement I would be supportive of a red light camera."

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The candidates' answers to questions about their qualifications, Gov Corbett's budget, and funding for public schools can be found . Their answers to questions about tuition rates and jobs can be found . Their answers to questions about tax breaks and Marcellus pipelines can be found . Their answers about a proposal to privatize the state liquor store system can be found .

You can chime in on what each candidate has to say in the comments box below.

Stephanie Davis July 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Agree with Dr. Sharon Brown on all of these issues. She is articulate, logical, and her arguments are based in fact. Randy V. seems unable to make his case given the one or two sentences used to discuss each of these issues. Additionally, Randy V.'s position on red light cameras is inconclusive.
Matthew Cook July 20, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Well, I'll help Randy out. On voter ID, Dr. Brown's claim of more than 750,000 potentially disenfranchised is false. The state merely said it couldn't match that many people between voter rolls and the state DOT database. Just because they don't have a license doesn't mean they can't vote. So we don't know what the real number is. Get some form of ID. It's not a lot to ask. On birth control, the government has no business dictating to insurance companies what they have to cover. But they have, and will continue to do so, because of Obamacare. That's one reason insurance has become so expensive. Dr. Brown's reasoning "healthy women means healthy families and healthy communities" is beside the point. Based on her reasoning one could justify a broad range of government requirements. I wonder why all the fuss over 'birth control' if birth control means pills, which are not expensive; unless what proponents are looking for is required coverage of abortions. On red light ticket cameras, I agree with ..... Dr. Brown ! Sorry Randy but your argument that they 'can be abused' is lame. Let the police department do its job. I even got a ticket once this way. When idiots stop running red lights and injuring or killing people maybe we can ease up.

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