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.