Republicans call it a measure protecting against voter fraud; Democrats call it a politically motivated push to suppress the voting of minorities and the elderly. Nonetheless, Pennsylvanians will have to make sure they have some form of photo or personal ID to take part in elections.
Under the law, photo ID from the U.S. military, a Pennsylvania-accredited higher education institution, an employer, a state-run health facility, a Penn DOT-issued driving or state ID or a paycheck are all acceptable forms of identification. Voters with a religious objection to being photographed are permitted to use a non-photograph ID.
In the event one’s Pennsylvania driver’s license or state ID is about to expire, the law grants up to 12 months after the expiration date for it to be a valid form of identification for voting.
If a voters go to a polling place and don’t have acceptable ID, they won’t be turned away, they would just have to vote with a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots allow persons to vote when they have gone to the wrong polling place, do not have correct identification and or their name isn’t on the voter list. Pennsylvanians have six days after voting with a provisional ballot to show the County Board of Elections a valid form of identification.
Also, the law states it will provide free state IDs to residents without the listed forms of identification. Applicants would need a statement from an elector stating they don’t have identification. They would have to provide a birth certificate, Social Security number and other documents to complete the application.
State Rep. Michelle Brownlee, D-Philadelphia, who represents Strawberry Mansion, Brewerytown, Mantua and parts of Fairmount in Harrisburg, called the law unnecessary.
Pennsylvania joined 30 other states that have voter ID laws. Wisconsin’s photo ID law was recently ruled unconstitutional in a county courtroom. Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas’ law won’t be put into effect until it gets pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.
For now, however, Pennsylvanians will have to show ID before they vote.