Thursday, July 12, 2012

Voter ID: What it is, what is acceptable and the current legal challenge

As many of you are likely aware, there is an ongoing controversy over recently passed legislation in Pennsylvania: Voter ID.  The Chamber has not taken a stance on the issue, so please know that this entry is completely informative and not meant to advocate one way or the other.

The Background
In March, the legislature passed and Governor Corbett signed Voter ID legislation.  The legislation requires that voters show acceptable forms of identification before casting a voting in an election.  Barring a successful legal challenge, Voter ID will be required in the November 2012 elections.

Proponents of the law argued that such legislation was necessary to protect the integrity of elections and reduce voter fraud.  Opponents argued that such restrictions were onerous and would only drive away voters - particularly those inclined to vote Democrat.  A recent report showed that approximately 758,000 (about 9%, though its as high as 18% in Philadelphia) voters do not currently have acceptable forms of ID.

Pennsylvania is now one of 33 states that requires ID.

Acceptable identification

Straight from the Pennsylvania Department of State website:

  • Photo IDs issued by the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • PA Driver’s License or Non-driver’s License photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date)
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • U.S. military ID- active duty and retired military (a military or veteran’s ID must designate an expiration date or designate that the expiration date is indefinite). Military dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date
  • Employee photo ID issued by Federal, PA, PA County or PA Municipal government
  • Photo ID from an accredited PA public or private institution of higher learning, including colleges, universities, seminaries, community colleges and other two-year colleges
  • Photo ID issued by a PA care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences or personal care homes

Those without appropriate ID will still be able to cast a provisional ballot; they will need to come back, in six days, and provide appropriate ID to have their vote count.

How to get an ID
Individuals without an ID can get one by visiting PennDOT's website.  They must provide:

A Social Security card AND one of the following:

  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • *Birth Certificate with a raised seal
PLUS:  Two proofs of residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records

The legal challenge
Multiple groups, including the Pennsylvania ACLU, contend that the law passed by the Commonwealth blocks individuals from voting and are suing to stop the law from taking effect.  The Supreme Court has previously ruled that reasonable voter ID laws are acceptable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.