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9% of Pa. Voters May Lack Proper ID to Vote

Pennsylvania released figures this week that reveal almost 45,000 registered voters in Montgomery County could not be matched with PennDOT ID numbers.

 

There are almost 45,000 registered voters in Montgomery County who do not have the PennDOT ID number required to be able to vote in the fall general election according to a Pennsylvania Department of State comparison of voter registration rolls and PennDOT ID databases.

In March, state lawmakers approved a new voter ID bill (House Bill 934), sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), that requires each voter to present proof of identification at every election. The law is scheduled to take effect for the Nov. 6 general election.

The new law has been controversial, with Democrats challenging that it will disenfranchise voters without proper IDs and Republicans saying it will fight voter fraud.

The database comparison provided this week by the Department of State shows that 91% of Pennsylvania's 8,232,928 registered voters have PennDOT ID numbers. Of the 758,939 voters who could not be matched between the Department of State and PennDOT databases, 22% (167,566) are inactive voters, most of whom have not voted since 2007.

Richards: County Doing "Everything Possible" to Inform Voters

The number of voters without IDs "far surpasses the number that they thought," said Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards on Thursday.

"Initially, they thought it was one percent. Now it is over nine percent, which is over 700,000 registered voters, similar to the population of Montgomery County [Editor's note: 801,052, according to the 2010 census]. It is a huge amount," Richards said.

Richards said Montgomery County will hold a public meeting on the Voter ID requirements on Thursday, July 26, at the main campus of in Blue Bell.

"We are doing everything possible to make sure that all our residents are educated on this new law and make sure they know all the resources to obtain an ID if they do not have one," Richards said.

Some Voters "Inactive"

Of Montgomery County's 44,952 voters without PennDOT IDs, 37,645 are active and 7,307 are inactive.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State:

One of the reasons a voter can be put on “inactive” status is if he or she has not voted in five years. A notice must then be sent asking if the voter is still at the listed address. If the voter does not respond to this notice, the voter is placed on “inactive” status. Federal and state law require keeping an “inactive voter” on the registration list until he or she has not voted in two consecutive general elections for federal office after the date of the notice.

All voters identified as not having a PennDOT ID number will be contacted by letter this summer, reminding them of the new voter ID law, what IDs are acceptable for voting purposes and how to get a free ID if they don't have one.

County election directors will also be provided with the names and addresses of voters in their counties who did not match any record in the PennDOT database.

"This thorough comparison of databases confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November," said Carol Aichele, secretary of the commonwealth. "This comparison takes into account only voters with PennDOT IDs, and does not include voters who may have any of the other various acceptable forms of ID."

Such other acceptable forms include identification from accredited Pennsylvania colleges or universities, Pennsylvania care facilities, military identification, valid U.S. passports, other photo identification issued by the federal or Pennsylvania government, or employee identification issued by the federal, Pennsylvania, or a county or municipal government.

All identification used for voting must have an expiration date and be current, except for Pennsylvania driver's licenses or non-driver photo identification, which are valid for voting purposes one year past their expiration. Retired military identification with an indefinite expiration date is also valid for voting purposes.

Law Called Politically Motivated

 (D-North Strabane) said he voted no on the bill—as did all House Democrats and three Republicans—for many reasons, one of them financial.

"I voted no because it’s going to cost $11 million to implement," Neuman said, adding that there isn’t even any evidence that voter fraud is happening at the polls and that "free" identification cards are provided with taxpayer dollars.

The law has continued to be a point of contention between the Republican state lawmakers who support it and Democrats who oppose it.

Speaking at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in Hershey on June 23, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Bradford Woods) was listing the accomplishments of the state House and Senate, when he pointed to the new Voter ID law.

"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done," Turzai said. "First pro-life legislation—abortion facility regulations—in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."

Democratic opponents posted a video of his remark, saying it showed a political motivation behind the bill.

Do You Need an ID?

Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church is hosting a free Voter ID Clinic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, at New Life Plaza Nueva Vida, 25 E. Marshall Street.

The clinic, sponsored in part by Benefit Bank, will offer help in getting social security cards and birth certificates and with filling out voter registration forms. Call 610-945-6398 for more information.

Mike Shortall Sr July 07, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Rather misleading headline and conclusion ... All this means is that 9% do not have PENNDOT IDs. There are other acceptable forms of identification other than a PENNDOT-issued photo ID. You expect that people who do not drive would not have a PENNDOT ID. How many of these people have other acceptable forms of photo ID?
James Myers (Editor) July 07, 2012 at 06:48 AM
Fair point, Mike, but as the headline states – that 9% only "MAY" not have ID suitable to be able to cast a vote. The state is actually concerned that that's the case and that's why they're sending out letters to remind those registered voters about the new law so they make sure they're prepared. It's possible a fair share of those folks have one or more of the other acceptable forms of ID, but I think it's certainly a worthwhile effort to drop them a line and let them know the new rules.
linda spreeman July 08, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I am assuming that an alternate to the PA License Photo ID would qualify as 1) an employee badge 2) passport 3) student ID. In the case of a non-driving senior citizen they likely possess none of the above. The law, while well intentioned, has caused some inconvenience to a certain sub-section of our society. It's merely that, an inconvenience. Even if someone doesn't drive, and doesn't possess the alternative picture ID's, certainly finding someone willing to transport said person to a PennDot location is not worthy of this type of entensive debate. <Linda Spreeman, King of Prussia>
James Myers (Editor) July 09, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I've always assumed the debate sprang more from the perceived intentions of those introducing and opposing the law than the actual strictures of it. The Democrats seem to believe the Republicans are less concerned with actual voter fraud and more concerned with trying to hinder traditionally Democrat voters from making it to the polls. The Republicans seem to believe that the Democrats are willing to overlook fraud to allow voters who might side with them to cast a vote illegally. It's one of the most purely politically motivated debates I've ever seen.
Kelly Devine July 09, 2012 at 01:33 PM
An employee badge is not an acceptable form of ID to vote, unless it's a state employee. A passport is fine, but it can't be expired - same with driver's licenses. And student IDs must show the student's address and have an expiration date, which most do not.
James Myers (Editor) July 09, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Kelly, as I understand it, an expired Pa driver's license or Pa. non-driver photo ID is acceptable as long as it's within one year of the expiration date.
Lee July 10, 2012 at 03:53 PM
PennDot is not the end all! Birth certificates work. Agree with James, this is so political. With so many new folks in our country from all over the world, voting has to be secure, has to be or massive trouble ahead. We're already in deep trouble financially, all of us, we have to have order. I regret how many friends and family who are Dem truly despise Reps. Dems politicians and the major media for how many years have very very successfully demonized your friends and relatives who are Reps. It is ridiculous because Rep and Dem uber elites are playing us both like violins.

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