The Corbett administration promised Wednesday to ease the burden of obtaining a photo ID in order to vote. They claimed the new provision simplifies the method for Pennsylvania-born voters, who can request PennDOT verify their birth using state health records.
The law, which passed in March, requires all citizens present photo identification at the polls before being allowed to cast their ballots. If a voter is without ID, they may cast a provisional ballot that will be accepted if they present election officials with an acceptable ID within six days.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, approximately 12 percent of the country’s eligible voters may not have a government-issued photo ID; that percentage is even higher for students, seniors and minorities.
This new provision allows PennDOT to verify voters’ births without them having to show their original birth certificate or paying a $10 fee to receive a new copy.
And while the new requirement may appease disgruntled voters, especially minorities, the law still causes a high number of difficulties.
First, residents born outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will not be eligible for the PennDOT verification service. If voters meet that requirement, there is still another hurdle.
For PennDOT to verify a voter’s state birth records, the individual must first visit the driver’s license center with not only his or her Social Security card, but at least two proofs of residency.
If they don’t have access to their Social Security card, they have apply to the Social Security Administration to receive their state birth records.
But it’s not that simple.
To do so, they must have either a certified copy of their driver’s license (which would allow them to vote under the new law regardless), a state-issued ID (which you need your Social Security card to receive in the first place) or a passport (which is already accepted as proper form of voting ID).
Additionally, the new law requires a subsequent trip to the driver’s license center to pick up the non driver ID card, after the state confirms the voter’s birth. Physically impaired voters, or those without reliable transportation, may therefore still find that obtaining an ID is difficult.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, told the Philadelphia Inquirer this slight change will not affect the 10 individuals who are suing, citing the law as a violation of the state constitution.
Walczak also told the Inquirer that the provision “does not go nearly far enough in enabling all registered voters to get the necessary ID.”
Hearings against the law are set to begin July 25, with a decision expected by early August.