From the moment Voter ID was passed in March, its opponents said that many would have difficulty obtaining the necessary photo identification to vote.
Problems ranged from inconvenient driver’s license center hours to a lack of the necessary documents needed to obtain a PennDOT ID.
PennDOT IDs require applicants provide proof of identity and residence to obtain a non-driver ID. Acceptable forms of identification include a birth certificate, social security card, certificate of U.S. citizenship or naturalization or a passport.
But in July the state came up with a new solution – a Department of State non-driver’s ID good for voting purposes only.
This new form of ID would require registered voters only provide their name, address (and proof of residency) and Social Security number. Then they must fill out a Department of State ID application form and sign a document saying that they are registered to vote but have no other form of acceptable identification.
Driver’s license center staff would then confirm with the Department of State that the applicant is registered to vote and provide them with the ID, which is to be valid for 10 years.
Starting today, the Department of State card is to be available statewide at PennDOT driver’s license centers.
“Our goal is to ensure that every person who needs an ID can get one, and this new ID serves as a safety net for those who can’t find or obtain verification documents normally required for a PennDOT secure identification card,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch in a press release.
With the case against the Voter ID law headed to the Supreme Court in two weeks, the timing for the state could not have been better.
One of the main arguments against the law is that it is discriminatory against groups unlikely to have an ID – and also unlikely to be able to obtain an ID in time because of prohibitive costs and time constraints.
Removing some of the impediments to obtaining an ID is a way for the state to shore up their case in time for the bench to hear it.