State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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New voting ID ready for prime time this week

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 27, 2012 8:55 PM

It’s the Department of State’s response to the problem that cropped up as confused voters tried to jump the new hoop created by the state’s voter ID law – a photo ID that’s a bit more lax when it comes to what you need to get it.

Some longtime voters had difficulty obtaining the most common form of photo ID acceptable at the polls this fall – a PennDOT driver’s  or non-driver’s license – because they don’t have the required Social Security card or birth certificate.  In fact, many of the witnesses who testified during the Commonwealth Court hearing of a challenge to the voter ID law had exactly this problem. 

“As we implemented this law we did discover that there was a small group of folks who really couldn’t get the documents,” said Department of State spokesman, Ron Ruman.  “The biggest problem was the birth certificate for people who were born in other states or other countries.”

The Department of State’s answer to this problem is available and wallet-sized, starting this week.  PennDOT licensing centers are the sole source of the new IDs.  There are 71 such centers statewide, in all but nine counties.  But only the Pittsburgh and Harrisburg licensing centers were open today (and Harrisburg’s is usually closed on Mondays), so, for most of the state, the IDs are available beginning tomorrow.

What are these laxer standards?  The Department of State voting ID requires a Social Security number and two proofs of residence.  “So this would help folks that can’t help folks get all that documentation,” said Ruman.

The card is strictly for voting purposes, so you must be a registered voter to obtain one.  The deadline to register to vote before the election is October 9, although you could get the voting ID card as late as the day of the November General Election, and still use it to cast a ballot.

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