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What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania’s New Voter ID Law

Why I support voter ID laws.

Special to Patch by Rep. Justin Simmons

A new law is now in place in Pennsylvania that requires all voters to present valid photo identification at the polling place in order to cast their vote. Voters will be asked to present ID at the April 24 primary election, but identification will not be required by law until the general election in November.

This important piece of legislation ensures that one person equals one vote, which is the foundation of our republic. I supported it wholeheartedly.

These days, a photo ID is required to complete countless transactions – from buying beer and cashing a check to obtaining a fishing license and boarding a plane. In fact, when I went to my local pharmacy a few weeks ago, I had to produce a photo ID to purchase an over-the-counter nasal decongestant.  So why shouldn’t a photo ID also be required to keep our electoral process free from fraud?   

What forms of ID will be accepted under the new law? All registered voters must present an ID that includes a name, photo and expiration date, except when an individual presents a military ID card. 

Forms of identification that will be accepted include:

  • A driver’s license or ID card issued by the PennDOT.
  • Military ID cards, including ones from the Pennsylvania National Guard.
  • Cards issued by an accredited Pennsylvania university or a licensed nursing home.

Opponents of the new law have said that somehow it will disenfranchise senior and minority voters. I believe this argument is absolutely false because 99 percent of all voting-age Pennsylvanians have an identification card that would suffice as a voter ID, according to Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele. 

The small percentage of voters who do not have an acceptable form of ID can easily obtain one, free of charge, from PennDOT. The voter must first affirm he or she has no other form of ID and may then proceed using PennDOT’s existing procedures for obtaining a non-driver ID.  

In addition, voters who appear at the polls in November without photo ID will have the opportunity to vote by provisional ballot. They will then need to provide valid identification within six days of the election to the appropriate county Board of Elections.

Please visit my website, RepSimmons.com, for more information on the Commonwealth’s new voter identification law.

ted.dobracki March 22, 2012 at 04:34 PM
And it shouldn't be two easy, either. Can't hand them out like candy.
ted.dobracki March 22, 2012 at 04:37 PM
It shouldn't be made hard to get government issued foto-ID. That is a fundamental service.
ted.dobracki March 22, 2012 at 08:09 PM
For what it's worth, here's how it really works on election day: I was a polling site supervising "inspector" for several elections in one of the first states to have a voter-ID requirement, and it works quite efficiently. No one was turned away from the poll, even if they were at the wrong place or even if they didn't have ID with them. In fact, we had a very efficient process to help misdirected voters find their right poliing place, which started with voters showing the clerks (one from each party) at the sign in their IDs. If the clerks determined that a voter wasn't in that site poll book, the inspector (me) would call a special hotline, and we get the person pointed the right way within two minutes. The voter's ID was essential and crucial for making the phone call work as well as it did. Any other voter who was questioned by either a poll official or a party observer for any reason, including lack of ID could still fill out a provisional ballot, which would be counted before the county certified the election as long as the issue causing the challenge was cleared up. (This could include misdirected voters who insisted on staying, but that never happened to me.) The only challenge that I ever had was by a Democrat poll judge against two of her former neighbor's absentee ballots (also D's) who she knew moved long before.
Jeff Lotte March 23, 2012 at 02:58 AM
For all of the dumb useless spending of our tax dollars that goes on every day, I have no problem with the voter ID law costing a few dollars. Having the votes counted as more than registered voters just aint right. I know the Dems don't like the fact that dead people can't vote for them anymore but maybe if they tried to do the will of the people they would not need this kind of support. If we put a stop on Charlie Dents credit card, we could prolly recoup a million of it real quick...better do it quick before election time, he'll be flying off to Afghanistan or somewhere for photo ops with a few troops to plaster all over his reelection campaign.
Ron Beitler March 23, 2012 at 06:29 AM
First I do agree with this law. I also to an extent believe in federal ID cards. (which we already do have... AKA Social Security cards.... they just arent Photo ID's) I've read many articles about the cost of implementing the Voter ID law and just can't seem to find what exactly these estimates account for. One time cost to fund information campaign maybe? Ok thats necessarily to ensure the mass "disenfranchising of voters" doesnt happen. I don't believe that will be the case at all. You need an ID to do virtually anything. Unfortunately... long lines at the poll won't be the case. I can't see showing an ID logjamming the lines at my polling place which is the busiest in the township. Sadly for large swaths of most election days, you can see tumbleweed rolling down the path to vote. Go to a popular bar on a Friday night. There are more people trying to get in, in a shorter period of time then who vote an entire day at most polling places. Do you see logjams at the door because you have to show an ID? No.

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