Pressure to get one is eased as judge delays implementation of voter ID law
The Montgomery County Commissioners unveiled plans on Monday for the implementation of its new program to provide ID cards to Montgomery County registered voters who do not have or are having trouble securing the proper ID under the state’s new law, according to an Oct. 1 press release.
County officials reported that, beginning Oct. 3, employees of Parkhouse, a county nursing home, will begin issuing ID cards at various locations throughout the county. The cards are free. Shapiro said the cost of administering the program would cost the county less than $5,000. The county released a schedule of places the ID could be acquired between now and Nov. 6.
While the county’s program will continue to move forward, a ruling by state Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on Tuesday, that voters in Pennsylvania can cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election without having to show state-approved identification, means that voters without the ID can still cast their vote without having to cast a provisional ballot that would be thrown out if they didn’t return with identification within six days.
Voters will still be asked for identification at polling places but will be allowed to vote without them.
The battle of requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballot began earlier this year when legislators passed the controversial law. Simpson initially upheld the law when it was challenged in the Commonwealth Court. When the legislation was appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in September, judges ruled that the law be returned to the lower court to determine whether the state was doing enough to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
Simpson’s earlier decision dealt mostly with whether the General Assembly had the authority to establish the voter ID requirements.
This time around Simpson accepted the argument that, in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the state-approved identification cards issued and the estimated need would not be closed. The judge also ruled to allow the state to continue its education and advertising campaign.
Most Pennsylvanians agree with the new law. The results of a Quinipiac University poll, published in the New York Times on Sept. 27, reported that 62 percent of likely voters, including about 9 in 10 Republicans and 2/3 of Independents, agree with it. Most Democrats are opposed.
While the need for photo identification is optional for Nov. 6, the law is still in effect for future elections.
To receive a Voter ID card issued through Montgomery County’s Parkhouse, a voter must fill out an application in which he or she affirms, under penalty of perjury, that they are a citizen of the United States, a resident of Montgomery County and a registered voter in Montgomery County.
The applicant must present one of the following seven forms of identification to receive a card: a non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or an agency thereof; a non-photo ID issued by the United States Government or an agency thereof; a firearm permit; a current utility bill; a current bank statement; a pay check; or a government check. This are all acceptable forms of ID currently allowed under state law.
Parkhouse began issuing the Voter ID cards on Wednesday, October 3. The schedule for the first week continues today: Thursday, October 4, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Norristown Public Library, 1001 Powell Street, Norristown; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at One Montgomery Plaza, 425 Swede St., Norristown; Friday, October 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at One Montgomery Plaza, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Lansdale Senior Center, 315 W. Main St., Lansdale.
The entire schedule can be viewed on the Montgomery County website at www.montcopa.org.