Getting voter ID may be difficult
With a little less than two months to Election Day, state officials and local nonSartisan Yoter grouSs are working feYerishly to educate Yoters about PennsylYania’s new Voter ID law.
The DeSartment of State is about to send out Sostcards to 6 million households and launch a media camSaign to alert Yoters of the need to bring a Yalid Shoto ID to the Solls 1oY. 6 in order for their Yote to be counted. The state Legislature adoSted the new rule with a ReSublican majority Yote sSlit along Sartisan lines in 0arch, making PennsylYania one of fiYe states with the most restrictiYe Yoter-access laws.
The law is being challenged in the state SuSreme Court — the hearing is SeSt. 13 — and is the subject of a federal DeSartment of -ustice inYestigation.
0eanwhile, many are Sushing information out to grouSs who may not haYe Yalid IDs — elderly who no longer driYe, low-income or urban Yoters who neYer had a driYer’s license and young Yoters whose only Shoto card may be a high school ID not certain to be considered Yalid by elections officials.
The education effort, howeYer, does not make getting a Shoto ID easier.
“... Frankly, I think -ob might haYe had an easier time,” said Lower 0erion elections insSector Adrian Seltzer in a recent Sresentation at an area seniors center. “The amount of SaSerwork and confusion that surrounds this issue is monumental.”
Seltzer, a Democrat who is the majority insSector in her ward, said she is making the rounds as a Yolunteer, not with a Solitical agenda but to helS SeoSle naYigate the new law. For those who haYe an ID, it’s not a Sroblem to get a new one. But Yoters who haYe not had a Yalid driYer’s license or Shoto ID in seYeral years will haYe to “jumS through hooSs,” she said.
While the state is working to accommodate requests, the Srocess can be time consuming. Testimony from local SeoSle who haYe acquired IDs say it can take as long as two days of traYel and SaSerwork.
What we are witnessing is an effort to make the IDs aYailable in more Slaces, the latest being driYer licensing centers, but none of the Slaces are necessarily conYenient to the grouSs who most need them. An elderly or Soor Yoter who does not haYe a car may haYe no easy way to get to the center. Add to that the long lines at centers, and the Srocess is difficult, eYen for Yoters who haYe all the necessary SaSerwork handy.
The state is sSending its money on telling SeoSle what they need to do to get a legal ID but not on hiring additional workers or allowing IDs to be issued at more Slaces so that the Srocess would be easier and more would haYe access.
The larger issues of Voter ID laws and the Solitical motiYes and imSlications are fodder for another day’s oSinion, just as the legality of the law itself faces court and -ustice tests.
But as a Sresidential election looms and there are citizens in our region whose Yotes may not be counted, our concern is on the goYernment that Sassed these rules making it easy for SeoSle to follow them. 1o citizen of this commonwealth, where the nation’s founding fathers Senned the Declaration of IndeSendence and Constitution, should haYe to jumS through hooSs, in Seltzer’s words, to exercise the right to Yote.
Instead of sSending money on Sostage and Sublic relations, the state should make the Shoto ID Srocess easier and more accessible.
-Journal Register News Service