Getting voter ID may be difficult
With a little less than two months to Election Day, state RIfiFLDOV DQG ORFDO QRQSDUWLVDQ YRWHU JURuSV DUH wRUNLQJ IHverishly to educate voters about Pennsylvania’s new Voter fD law.
The Department of State is about to send out postcards to 6 million households and launch a media campaign to alert voters of the need to bring a valid photo fD to the polls Nov. 6 in order for their vote to be counted. The state Legislature adopted the new rule with a Republican majority vote split along partisan lines in March, making Pennsylvania one of fiYH VWDWHV wLWK WKH PRVW UHVWULFWLYH YRWHU-DFFHVV ODwV.
The law is being challenged in the state Supreme Court — the hearing is Sept. 13 — and is the subject of a federal Department of Justice investigation.
Meanwhile, many are pushing information out to groups who may not have valid fDs — elderly who no longer drive, low-income or urban voters who never had a driver’s license and young voters whose only photo card may be a high school ,D QRW FHUWDLQ WR EH FRQVLGHUHG YDOLG Ey HOHFWLRQV RIfiFLDOV.
The education effort, however, does not make getting a photo fD easier.
“... crankly, f think Job might have had an easier time,” said Lower Merion elections inspector Adrian Seltzer in a recent presentation at an area seniors center. “The amount of paperwork and confusion that surrounds this issue is monumental.”
Seltzer, a Democrat who is the majority inspector in her ward, said she is making the rounds as a volunteer, not with a political agenda but to help people navigate the new law. cor those who have an fD, it’s not a problem to get a new one. But voters who have not had a valid driver’s license or photo fD in several years will have to “jump through hoops,” she said.
While the state is working to accommodate requests, the process can be time consuming. Testimony from local people who have acquired fDs say it can take as long as two days of travel and paperwork.
What we are witnessing is an effort to make the fDs available in more places, the latest being driver licensing centers, but none of the places are necessarily convenient to the groups who most need them. An elderly or poor voter who does not have a car may have no easy way to get to the center. Add to WKDW WKH ORQJ OLQHV DW FHQWHUV, DQG WKH SURFHVV LV GLIfiFuOW, HYHQ for voters who have all the necessary paperwork handy.
The state is spending its money on telling people what they need to do to get a legal fD but not on hiring additional workers or allowing fDs to be issued at more places so that the process would be easier and more would have access.
The larger issues of Voter fD laws and the political motives and implications are fodder for another day’s opinion, just as the legality of the law itself faces court and Justice tests.
But as a presidential election looms and there are citizens in our region whose votes may not be counted, our concern is on the government that passed these rules making it easy for people to follow them. No citizen of this commonwealth, where the nation’s founding fathers penned the Declaration of fndependence and Constitution, should have to jump through hoops, in Seltzer’s words, to exercise the right to vote.
fnstead of spending money on postage and public relations, the state should make the photo fD process easier and more accessible.
Journal Register News Service
By Kathy Disque