Primary Election to Test Voter ID Law
In March, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 934, also known as the Photo Voter ID bill, which will require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification at their polling place when they vote.
“I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote,” Corbett said in a press release last month. “It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.”
The law went into effect immediately, but a photo ID will not be required for the primary election April 24. However, voters will be reminded at that time that a photo ID will be required for November’s general election.
“It’ll have a small impact on the upcoming primary election,” said Clearfield County Elections Director Dawn Graham. “We’ll be asking for ID, but voters won’t be required to show it.”
Graham said at the upcoming primary election, each voter will be given an information sheet, outlining the new voter ID requirements. In November, all voters will be required to show a photo ID before voting at a polling place. She said that acceptable IDs included:
- Any photo IDs issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that include a driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo IDs. These IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past their expiration date.
- Any photo IDs issued by the U.S. Federal Government, including a valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or U.S. Military ID. Any active duty and retired military ID must designate an expiration date or designate that it’s indefinite. A military dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date.
- Any employee photo ID issued by federal, state, county or municipal government that’s not expired.
- Any photo ID card from an accredited public or private Pennsylvania college or university that’s not expired.
- Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences or personal care homes that aren’t expired.
Graham said that anyone legally entitled to vote will not be denied the right if they don’t possess a valid photo ID at the polls in November. She said they’ll be permitted to cast a provisional, or paper, ballot and granted six days to provide photo ID and or an affirmation at the county elections office.
“If they fail to bring it in within that timeframe, their vote won’t count,” she said. Absentee voters are also required to provide ID this November; however, they can use the last four digitals of their social security number.
Studies show that 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible voters already have acceptable photo IDs. Any voter who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID can get one, free of charge, at any PennDOT driver license center, according to the governor’s press release.
A recent poll determined that 87 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor a law requiring identification at the polls. Thirty-one other states currently require identification and 15 of them require a photo ID.
This law is designed to make sure all citizens legally entitled to vote can do so. Individuals applying to register to vote must be:
- A citizen of the U.S. for at least one month before an election;
- A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which the individual desires to register and vote for at least 30 days before the election; and
- At least 18 years of age on or before the election.
Election laws fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of State.
“This law will help us preserve the integrity of every vote in Pennsylvania,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele in the governor’s press release in March.
“No one entitled to vote will be denied that right by this bill, but by preventing those not legally allowed to vote from casting ballots, we will make sure every vote carries the weight it should in deciding elections.”
For more information on the voter ID law or voter registration, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit www.VotesPA.com.
Graham said they’ll receive additional information about the new voter ID law from the state after the upcoming primary election.