With the arrival last week of the Pennsylvania Department of State voter ID card, state officials say it should be possible for every eligible voter to obtain poll-worthy identification.
Possible does not always mean easy. The new voter ID has been officially described as a “safety net” for people who cannot obtain all of the documents needed for a traditional nondriver license. Those include people who never had a birth certificate or can’t produce a marriage license to verify a name change, for example. But the card isn’t valid for any purpose other than voting, and you can’t get one without swearing that you have tried every other avenue to get a secure ID. For most people, that means at least one previous trip to a Department of Transportation office. “We call this an exhaustion requirement,” for both legal and metaphoric reasons, said Witold “Vic” Walczak, the ACLU lawyer who is fighting the state’s voter ID law in court.
For some, the process of obtaining regular PennDot IDs should be easier than it was in April. PennDot has allowed clerks more discretion, and linked up with the Health Department to electronically certify Pennsylvania birth records. For the most extreme cases, the new ID is available as a last resort. In the first two days the card was available (Tuesday and Wednesday), 87 were issued in Philadelphia and 57 elsewhere in the state, according to the state.
Since March, the state has issued 6,119 nondriver IDs to voters. But for the thousands of registered voters who still need ID, the only option is a trek to PennDot – and all the headaches that often entails: long lines; multiple trips; frustrating bureaucracy; and, since by definition the people who need these IDs don’t drive, just getting to a PennDot office. PennDot IDs are not the only acceptable identification at the polls. Valid passports, military IDs, nursing home or school IDs with expiration dates are among the documents that will be accepted.
Full Article: Pennsylvanians’ path to voter ID not without glitches.