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Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: Is PennDOT ready?

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: Is PennDOT ready?

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Published by PennLive
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center says the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation may stand as a barrier for voters to get proper photo ID. Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, voters must show valid photo ID at the polls. Valid ID include PennDOT issued driver's license and military identification.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center says the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation may stand as a barrier for voters to get proper photo ID. Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, voters must show valid photo ID at the polls. Valid ID include PennDOT issued driver's license and military identification.

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Published by: PennLive on Aug 03, 2012
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08/03/2012

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Pennsylvania’s Identity Crisis
Rushed Implementation of Voter ID LawPutting Voting Rights at Risk 
By Sharon Ward
August 2012
 
Te Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a non-partisan policy research project that provides independent,credible analysis on state tax, budget and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current orproposed policies on working families. Learn more at http://www.pennbpc.org.Cover and layout design by Stephanie Frank 
 
1
Executive Summary
Pennsylvania is one o several states thathave taken action over the past decade to imposenew requirements on voters seeking to cast a ballot.Pennsylvania’s new law, enacted in March 2012, is oneo the nation’s most demanding voter ID laws, resultingin large numbers o eligible voters having to secure newidentication. The U.S. Supreme Court has established that state voterID laws may be constitutional i they meet specicrequirements. Chie among these are that voter ID isavailable ree to voters who do not have acceptableidentication and that securing an ID does not place anundue burden on voters.In this report, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center(PBPC) has documented the experience that voterswould have when seeking to obtain an ID through thePennsylvania Department o Transportation (PennDOT),the agency responsible or issuing the ree ID. PBPCrecruited volunteers who made 47 visits to 43 PennDOToces in 28 counties to observe how the law wasbeing implemented. The 43 oces in our sample arerepresentative o the geographical distribution o allPennDOT oces issuing non-driver photo ID and serve73% o Pennsylvania’s population.Volunteers were asked to observe i signage was visible,i documents necessary to obtain a ree ID were readilyavailable, and i the sta they encountered were amiliarwith the request or an ID and able to direct themappropriately. Since access to a ree ID is critical to theconstitutionality o the law, we asked voters to indicate i PennDOT sta volunteered inormation that an ID couldbe obtained or ree.We also looked at the location and hours o operation o PennDOT driver’s license centers, which are the primarypoint o contact or most voters.Our ndings:
•
In only 13% o observations was there signagein the reception area indicating a voter ID couldbe obtained. In almost hal the visits, neithersigns nor written inormation was observed.
•
While most PennDOT sta encountered by ourvolunteers were amiliar with the request orvoter ID, in nearly hal the visits individuals weregiven incomplete or inaccurate inormation.
•
Few PennDOT sta volunteered that a voter ID couldbe acquired or ree, and in three in 10 cases, volunteerswere told incorrectly that they would have to pay.
•
 The standard orm or obtaining a non-photo ID does not indicate that it is availableor ree to certain voters, and a second ormrequired to get the ID was not readily available.
•
 The number and hours o operation o PennDOToces are quite limited. There are 71 driver’slicense centers in all o Pennsylvania, and ninecounties do not have any centers at all. Inan additional 20 counties, the driver’s licensecenter is open three days a week or less.
•
One in ve volunteers had to return a second timebecause the Driver License center or Photo Licensecenter was closed.Recent reports rom the Department o State indicatethat many more individuals may lack appropriate ID thaninitially expected and most will have to turn to PennDOTto secure an ID – whether it is a standard non-driver ID ora new Department o State voter ID that will be availablein late August. In either case, it is incumbent on bothagencies to ensure the process works smoothly. Basedon the observations o our volunteers, currently it doesnot.Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is restrictive andcomplicated to implement or Pennsylvania’s largepopulation in such a short period o time. The processto secure identication is not well established, havingundergone numerous changes in the our monthssince the law was enacted. It is at this time unclearwhether the Commonwealth has the ability to ensureID is available to all who need it by the Novemberelection. Given the consequence – disenranchisingPennsylvania voters the Commonwealth shouldconsider delaying the law until its procedures aremore rmly established and its processes improve. To make voter identication more readily available, theCommonwealth should expand the number o siteswhere voting ID can be obtained, provide mobile IDunits or voters who lack transportation, provide clear,uniorm inormation across all sites, improve signage andimplement training o sta responsible or issuing ID.

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