Since Gov. Corbett signed Pennsylvania’s voter-identification bill into law two weeks ago, Philadelphia advocacy groups have been scrambling to educate and assist voters, who will now need a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote in November. I visited a lot of places and talked to plenty of people last week, and I can tell you this: The process is far from the smooth road proponents had predicted. You know what a nightmare PennDot can be. Yep, bumpy, even on a good day. Well, on the day I showed up at Eighth and Arch Streets last week, PennDot resembled a modern-day Tower of Babel – everybody talking, no one quite understanding what the other was saying.
Some folks thought they needed a photo ID in addition to a driver’s license to vote, not realizing that their driver’s license or passport counts as an acceptable form of ID. Others didn’t realize that their ID would have to be updated to coincide with a changed name or address. And I didn’t hear one PennDot employee inform anybody of the waived $13.50 fee provision for folks who couldn’t afford the identification.
That’s because in order to get a free ID, people need to sign an affidavit, PennDot’s Scott Shenk told me. But how, I ask, would voters know about said affidavit if they weren’t told that one exists? “The state is starting a campaign to educate people so they know what the requirement is,” Shenk said. But he couldn’t say exactly when the campaign is supposed to start.