The State is in court today trying to prove to a judge that they can make it easier to get the ID. Properly registered voters were having real trouble obtaining all the necessary documents, so this change will help.
Crowding and long waits at PennDOT centers are a problem. That will only get worse as voters learn about the new law and pour in to get the ID they need in time for Election Day. Voter advocates in the state are still pressing for weekend and evening hours to be established, a dedicated line at for those needing Voter ID, and temporary centers to be set up in the nine counties that don't have one. But this change will ensure voters only have to make one trip to a PennDOT center, and no trips to other government offices to obtain vital records.
On another level, this change further questions the purpose of the law.
Why can't this process take place at the polls? Why can't PA voters show a utility bill, medical card, or pay stub at the polling place, like voters do in some states? Why can't PA voters sign in for a ballot, as voters do in some states, allowing poll-workers to compare that signature to the one on the voter registration card? How does a card obtained by providing verbal information to a PennDOT clerk better ensure that the voter is the voter they claim to be?
When the requirement at the polls is for readily available information, something anyone can bring from home, it impacts every voter in the same way.
When the requirement at the polls is for a very specific, government-issued photo ID, it adds a step to the process that disproportionately impacts some voters.
It challenges voters without cars, or time off work.
It burdens voters with disabilities, or small kids in tow.
It imposes a big hurdle to voting for those who live down the road from the polling place in their precinct, but must travel long-distances to a PennDOT center.
What would happen in Pennsylvania if the new law applied equally to all voters?
If, in order to vote in this Presidential election, voters who happen to have a driver's license or military ID also had to go in person to PennDOT center to get a Voter ID?
If all voters were told that regardless of their age or voting history, or time of residence in a precinct, there is a card that they do not possess now that they must present in order to be handed a ballot?
If they were told that it wouldn't matter if they have voted in the same school basement every year.
If they were told that it won't help if the poll workers in their precinct know them by first name.
If they were told that the following scenario just isn't the State's problem: an older lady gets her driver's license renewed every year for ID, but hasn't driven in years. She lives in a rural area. She always has her adult son in the city come out on Election Day and drive her to the polls. But she doesn't have a way to get to a neighboring county before then to get her ID. With the new law, if the lady's driver's license instead expired over a year ago - a much more common scenario - she cannot vote without a Voter ID.
What if they were told that the following scenario just isn't the State's problem: a young man with autism doesn't drive, but has a current PennDOT non-driver's photo ID. He has a volunteer scheduled to come to his apartment on Election Day to get him to the polling place. But he just learned about the new law, and isn't sure how to get this new ID. With the new law, if he did not have a current PennDOT non-driver's photo ID - a much more common scenario, he could not vote.
It is even hard to imagine what would be happening in Pennsylvania right now if this were the scenario: a duly-registered voter with a current driver's license, flex-time at work, a car, and easy proximity to a PennDOT center is told that in order to vote in this Presidential election, they must go in person to a PennDOT center on one of the 29 weekdays between now and Election Day, provide the clerk with their name, address, Social Security number and date of birth, and pose for a new DOS photo Voter ID.
The law serves no purpose, and creates barriers to the ballot for certain voters and not others.
It's a farce to pretend that this Voter ID card is needed to protect the ballot from the threat of the phantom voter impersonator.
It is a definitive case of unequal access to the ballot.
There is no justification for this law, and it reeks more with every passing week.