Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law appears to impact Philadelphia’s elderly citizens more severely than other age groups – especially those over 80, who will likely find it harder than younger voters to obtain the photo identification they will need at the polls in November. Out of 44,861 active Philadelphia voters 80 or older, more than one in four, a total of 12,313, do not have photo ID from the state Department of Transportation – either a driver’s license or a nondriver ID. Those figures are based on an Inquirer analysis using computer data developed by PennDot and the Pennsylvania Department of State, which is responsible for state elections. Among active Philadelphia voters – those who have voted at least once in the last four years – the state counted about 136,000 whose names and birth dates did not match those with PennDot IDs. Overall, that number is 15.6 percent of the city’s active registered voters, about 874,000. But among older voters, the percentage without PennDot ID increases – to 19.5 percent among voters aged 65 to 79, and 27.4 percent among voters 80 and older.
Under the new voter-ID law, some elderly voters may be able to use other forms of acceptable identification, such as current U.S. passports or photo IDs issued by nursing homes or other licensed Pennsylvania care facilities. But in Philadelphia and the rest of the state, most older citizens do not live in licensed care facilities, according to officials with the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging and the state chapter of AARP.
To vote, the thousands who don’t already have acceptable photo ID will have to assemble various documents and visit a PennDot driver’s licensing center at least once. “These are a lot of people who aren’t walking anywhere, so we’re very concerned,” said Linda Riley, director of communications and legislative affairs for the corporation for aging. “We’ll do our best to help people get the ID they need. But there are huge obstacles to surmount, both transportation and also birth certificates, especially for people born outside Pennsylvania.”