Paul Carpenter‘s column of March 14 supporting the new photo voter identification law failed to recognize the hardship this new requirement will place on many voters, particularly senior citizens who don’t have a valid driver’s license. Carpenter stated that under the new legislation “there is no way a legitimate voter can be prevented from obtaining identification or from otherwise verifying that he or she is qualified to vote.” Not true. According to the SeniorLAW Center, 18 percent of senior citizens in Pennsylvania do not have a valid photo ID. Although a free one can now be obtained from a state Transportation Department photo center, many centers are either not served or are poorly served by public transportation. In addition to overcoming the hurdle of not being able to drive to the photo center, these senior citizens will have to present a Social Security card, birth certificate and two documents with their current address to get a photo ID. If they show up at their polling place but do not have a valid, unexpired photo ID, they will not be permitted to vote, despite the fact that they are legitimately registered voters and are known to election workers on sight. They will be offered a provisional ballot but must then obtain the photo ID and present it to the county elections office within six days for their vote to be counted. Doing all of this without a car will be difficult. If they don’t have a copy of their birth certificate or can’t find it, they won’t be able to get the photo ID, in which case their vote won’t be counted. It takes two to four months to process a birth certificate application.
It is the Greatest Generation that votes in the greatest numbers and most consistently and that will be hurt most by this law. Those who survived the deprivations of the Great Depression, endured the hardships and sacrifices of World War II, and went on to build the most robust economy in American history will be penalized by this law.
If anyone doubts this, just look at what happened in Aurora, Ohio, when an 86-year-old World War II veteran showed up to vote in that state’s March 6 primary. He had lived in the same precinct for 40 years and voted regularly yet was denied his right to vote because his driver’s license had expired and his other form of ID was not acceptable under Ohio’s new voter ID law.