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22 Apr 2012

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April 22, 2012 Category: Local Posted by:

The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition wants to make sure that you’re ready to vote in the November general election by helping you get the state-issued ID you’ll need to vote now.


By Denise Clay


When you go to the polls on Tuesday for the Pennsylvania Primary, the election workers are going to start asking you something that they never have before.


Can I see your ID?


That’s because the Primary represents a kind of dry run for the Commonwealth’s new Voter ID law.


The law, which was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett late last month, mandates that anyone heading to the polls in Pennsylvania must do so with a state-issued ID of some sort. If you come to the polls without ID starting in November, you will be given a provisional paper ballot to vote with…and your vote will not be official until you show proof of ID to your county’s Board of Elections within six days of the election.


Among the IDs allowable for use on the law are driver’s licenses, state non-driver IDs, passports, IDs from Pennsylvania-based colleges, nursing home or other agencies that have an expiration date, and gun licenses.


But while political geeks around the Commonwealth know the intricacies of the new law, regular garden variety voters may be a bit confused.


That’s where the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition steps in.


The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is a non-partisan group made up of groups concerned about the voting process like the Committee of Seventy and the Pennsylvania NAACP. Led by former City Manager Joe Certaine, the goal of the coalition is to make sure that voters know their rights under the law….especially since when the general election is held on Nov. 6, the law will be in full effect.


The biggest consequence is that you won’t be able to vote on anything other than a provisional ballot. If a poll worker lets you into the booth without an ID, there will be definite consequences, Certaine said.


“People will be turned away from the polls,” Certaine said. “If election workers refuse to turn voters without an ID away, they will be subject to fines, penalties and possibly jail time.”


It’s also important for voters to know all of the new law’s moving parts, Certaine said. For example, those using an absentee ballot must provide the last four numbers of their Social Security number in order for it to count. And student IDs from colleges outside of Pennsylvania are ineligible to use as ID, Certain said.


On Tuesday, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele announced a plan to allow people to use expired IDs as part of the identification needed to get new ones, a move designed assuage concerns about acquiring IDs for elderly residents and the very young.



Also, as part of the Voter ID law, the Commonwealth was supposed to supply free IDs for voters who can’t afford their own. So far, according to Sara Mullen, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, a member of the coalition, people have been turned away or made to pay for these so-called “free” IDs. In other cases, people have been at the mercy of a “nice” Department of Motor Vehicles worker or connections he or she might have within government to get what they need, she said.


Toward that end, the ACLU of Pennsylvania has joined with the Philadelphia NAACP to try and find people to use as plaintiffs for a lawsuit they plan to file to stop the law from taking effect.


If you know anyone that describes, they can call 877-424-2258 or go here to get more information.


Remember: the Pennsylvania Primary will be held on April 24.

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