I have not tested this theory, but I bet officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State have never issued as many news releases touting as many substantive changes to any process as they have while attempting to explain, justify, and implement the voter ID law. It’s not enough that a cynical legislature forced bureaucrats to design, on the fly, an ID-issuing system guaranteed to frustrate and discriminate. Every time well-intentioned officials issue a fix, journalists and advocates unearth more evidence of what remains broken. And the clock ticks on, with Election Day only six weeks away.
Yesterday, state officials took a huge step by admitting that they’d made it way too much of a hassle for folks to get one of the newfangled voting-only IDs. Initially, the state required registered voters to bring piles of papers on repeat trips to PennDot centers. In a switch – announced as lawyers arguing over the law went another round before a judge in Harrisburg – folks need to give only “name, date of birth, Social Security number, and address.”
Proof of residence is no longer required. And, from now on, the burden will be on PennDot workers to confirm that an applicant is already registered and, thus, worthy of an otherwise worthless ID card. Best yet: If a voter’s history can’t be confirmed on the spot, additional investigation will be done on the state’s dime and time. “The applicant will not have to return to PennDot,” the announcement assured. “The Department of State will mail the voter ID card.”