Get­ting voter ID may be dif­fi­cult

The Ambler Gazette - - OPINION -

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

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