The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday kicking a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law back to a lower court that already approved it may force a close look at state efforts to issue identification for voters. When that lower court upheld the strict voter ID law on Aug. 15, Judge Robert Simpson said state initiatives to educate voters and create a form of identification that can be used to vote made it unlikely that the law would disenfranchise voters. When Simpson takes up the case again, he likely will look closely at Pennsylvania’s efforts. He will find what state officials say are sincere attempts to reach registered voters. And he will find signs of serious trouble. Few of the 2 percent of Pennsylvania voters who did not have state-issued ID when the law was passed have been able to obtain it, despite programs that state officials say are free and easy.
The number of people who lack ID necessary to vote outstrips President Barack Obama’s 2008 margin of victory in the state. State officials have acknowledged that the state Department of Transportation, which issues driver’s licenses and photo ID, does not grant “free” photo IDs. Voters must provide several forms of backup identification in order to obtain a PennDOT photo ID card. That proof can be costly.
One Philadelphia-area woman who spoke with the Huffington Post last week said that she spent about $76, made three trips to a PennDOT office and two to the Social Security Administration and a state vital records office in order to obtain documents for the state-issued ID. As of Friday, PennDOT had issued 7,980 IDs, said Matthew Keeler, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections. The Department of State has issued an additional 743 photo ID cards since last month, when it began providing a card based on easier supporting information, such as a Social Security card and two utility bills, Keeler said.
Full Article: Pennsylvania Voter ID Neither Easy Nor Free.