Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Elections chief announces 'simplified' voter ID process

The state's top elections official announced a plan to "simplify" the process of getting photo identification needed to cast ballots under Pennsylvania's new Voter ID law.

Elections chief announces 'simplified' voter ID process


UPDATE: This summer Temple University will begin issuing new student IDs with expiration dates to comply with the new Voter ID law. The unversity said it was re-issuing the IDs on its normal 5 to 7-year schedule so there was no additional cost ot add the expiration date.

The state's top elections official announced a plan to "simplify" the process of getting photo identification needed to cast ballots under Pennsylvania's new Voter ID law.

Secretary of State Carol Aichele said at a news conference on Wednesday that voters may use long-expired state driver's licenses or non-driver ID cards in order to obtain the new, free photo ID from PennDot.

Did you follow that? I know, neither did my editor.

Bottom line, voters without valid licenses still have to go to PennDot offices to get the new ID to vote. This could be a problem for elderly voters without means of transportation.

But Aichele said allowing people who no longer drive, particularly seniors, to use expired licenses means they don't have to produce social security cards and birth certificates, which are more difficult  - and costly - to obtain. Her agency is working with nursing homes to ensure all of their residents have ID, she said.

Aichele said those with expired licenses don't even have to produce their ID at the PennDot office, because the agency will have you in their system, Aichele said. Unless of course, your license expired before the system was computerized in 1990.

Of course, that doesn't address people who never drove to begin with.

Another issue that has cropped up with the law was signed by Gov. Corbett in March involves the number of colleges and thousands of students who have IDs without expiration dates. The new law requires student IDs to have expiration dates. 

For instance, the University of Pennsylvania has expiration dates on its IDs but Temple University and Penn State do not. (But PSU will issue cards with expiration dates to new students this fall and provide stickers for returning students' IDs.)

None of the state system schools have IDs with expiration dates and of Pennsylvani's 14 community colleges, seven issue IDs with expirations dates, includign Delaware County Community College, according to the Department of State.

Other schools with acceptable ID include: Penn; Drexel; Haverford; Lehigh; Rosemont; Pa. College of Art and Design; Moore College of Art; Bryn Athyn College; Elizabethtown College; Lackawanna College; Misericordia University; Pa. Institute of Technology (Media and Philadelphia); University of Pittsburgh; Carnegie Mellon; Susquehanna University; Chatham University; Carlow University; Point Park University; Manor College.

The state’s new voter-ID law requires all voters to show photo ID before voting in the Nov. 6 general election. There is no ID requirement to cast ballots in the Apr. 24 primary.

The ACLU and the NAACP are planning to file suit challenging the law by the end of this month.



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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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