Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a new requirement that every voter present a valid form of photo identification when they vote.
The requirement takes effect for the November 2012 election and will be in effect for every election after that.
If you are a registered voter and you plan to vote in the November election, you need to make sure you have a valid, unexpired form of photo identification.
Although I do not necessarily have a problem with requiring ID to vote, this law creates burdens and loopholes that could actually result in legitimate voters being turned away at the polls. When it comes to potentially infringing on the sacred Constitutional right to vote, I view any changes with strict scrutiny.
The bigger issue is the kind of voter fraud this law purports to stop simply doesn’t exist in Pennsylvania, which Corbett admitted himself in recent court documents.
During debate on the House floor, we tried to close loopholes such as one that could prevent disabled veterans from voting, but our efforts were defeated. As a result, I voted against the Voter ID bill because its restrictive requirements have the real potential to hurt the voting process more than it helps.
But now that the bill is law, at least until the state Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality, my primary concern is making sure voters are aware of the new requirements now so they can correct any issues before going into the polls and potentially be turned away on Election Day. This is part one of a two part story on what you need to know about the new Voter ID law.
WHEN DO I NEED TO SHOW A PHOTO ID AT THE POLLS?
Every time you vote. If you forget your photo ID, you will be permitted to cast a provisional ballot. You’ll then have six days to verify your identity with your county board of elections in order for your vote to count. Don’t leave the polling place without at least voting by provisional ballot!
WHAT ARE VALID FORMS OF PHOTO ID?
The ID must include your photograph, your name in substantially the same way it appears on the voter roll, and an expiration date. Under the law, the following are acceptable forms of photo ID:
· Pennsylvania driver’s license. You can vote with a driver’s license that is up to a year past its expiration date.
· PA non-driver photo ID, or a PA non-driver non-photo ID. You can vote with one of the these ID cards, even if it is up to one year past the card’s expiration date.
· Valid U.S. passport. The passport MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
· U.S. military ID. Military and veteran IDs must designate an expiration date, and the ID MUST NOT BE EXPIRED. Or, the ID must designate that the ID does not expire. Military dependents’ ID must list an expiration date and MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
· Employee photo ID issued by the U.S. government, or Pennsylvania state, county or municipal government. Employee photo IDs must list an expiration date and MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
· Photo ID card from an accredited state public or private institution of higher learning. The photo ID must include an expiration date and MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
· Photo ID card issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted-living residences or personal care homes. The photo ID must include an expiration date and MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
· Photo ID card issued by the Department of State for voting purposes only.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PHOTO ID MATCHES THE VOTER ROLLS?
The name on your photo ID must be listed “in substantially the same way” that it is listed on the voter rolls. Anyone can check the name listed on the voter roll by using the VotesPA website: http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt/community/register_to_vote/13518
Does the name on the Photo ID have to match exactly the name on the voter rolls?
No. The name on the Photo ID must “substantially conform” to the name on the poll book. People often use nicknames, middle names and initials as a substitute for their given name.
For example, a voter whose name is Joseph Earl Voter may have a Photo ID such as: Joseph E. Voter, Joe Earl Voter, J. E. Voter, Joseph Voter, Joe E. Voter, Earl Voter, J. Earl Voter, or J. Voter.
A voter whose name is Margaret Smith Voter may have a Photo ID such as Margaret Smith Voter, M. Voter, Maggy S. Voter, M. S. Voter, Maggy Voter, M. Smith Voter, Peg S. Voter or Margaret Smith
It is the opinion of the Department of State that in the case of a voter who recently changed her name by reason of marriage, etc. the PA driver's license coupled with a PennDOT driver's license update card would be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Voter ID law.
Next week we will look at absentee ballots and how to obtain a valid ID or update your information. If you have specific questions not covered here, call my constituent service office at 724-746-3677 for more detailed information.