State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Voter ID's critics raise more concerns as law's review continues

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 26, 2012 10:32 PM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Voter-Registration-Identification-requirement-ID.jpgOpponents of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law are raising new concerns with its implementation, mid-way through the law’s second hearing in Commonwealth Court.

In the ongoing hearing of voter ID, one of the tasks before the judge is to determine whether specially-created alternative voting ID cards are widely available.

A survey by the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center suggests they haven’t been.

Volunteers visiting more than half of the state’s PennDOT licensing centers in mid-September reported many come up short when it comes to providing accurate information about the card.

Center director Sharon Ward said volunteers were able to interview PennDOT staff in 36 centers – about half of the total 71 centers statewide. One takeaway: the people on the front lines of issuing photo IDs valid for voting aren’t well-versed in the law’s requirements.

“When the supervisors were called over, they tended to be pretty well-informed about the law,” said Ward. “So it seems that there’s a difference in what the line staff’s level of knowledge is and what the supervisor’s level is.”

She added staff tended to be most shaky on their knowledge of how to help customers get the newly-created alternative voting ID card, issued by the Department of State.

“Some staff also indicated that the rules were changing,” said Ward, “and in fact, one said that it was hard to follow because they keep changing the rules, even with the training that the staff had received… on the new Department of State ID.”

The rules changed once more on Tuesday morning, easing the requirements necessary to get the Department of State card.

But Ward said it does little good if it’s not well understood by all staff members who work with customers.

“This is process on the fly and the concern here is that you’re going to leave people who need ID without the ID that they’re going to have to have, to vote,” she said.

Take a look at the survey here.

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