Amid the complexities of Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law, the news release sent out from Harrisburg on Wednesday promised to make things simpler. The Corbett administration was announcing it had worked out a way for PennDot to check with the state Health Department to verify state birth records – a “simplified method to obtain photo ID for Pennsylvania-born voters,” said the headline on the Department of State release. It may be simplified, but it still isn’t simple. The new wrinkle will lower one of the multiple hurdles the law has created for some of the people who don’t have driver’s licenses and need other forms of photo ID to vote in November’s general election.
Instead of having to locate their original birth certificates or pay $10 to apply for an official copy, would-be voters who were born in Pennsylvania will now be able to ask PennDot to verify their birth from state health records, without paying a fee to buy a new birth certificate. But the procedure helps only people born in Pennsylvania, not citizens born in other states or in other countries.
Plus, it will require an extra trip to one of PennDOT’s driver’s license centers to pick up a nondriver identification card, once the voter’s birth is authenticated. To put the process in motion, the individual will have to make a preliminary visit to the same driver’s license center, armed with other pieces of identification – a Social Security card (absolutely required for all applicants) and at least two proofs of residency, such as utility bills, lease agreements, mortgage documents, or tax records showing a current address.