Delaware County Council is alerting residents that they will be required to show an acceptable photo ID, one with an expiration date that is current, to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.
The Pennsylvania Voter ID law was enacted in the spring, and there was a soft roll-out for the primary election. Changes in the requirements have been made as recently as July 20 when the Department of State announced the creation of a new card that can be issued to voters who are not able to provide all the documents they would normally need to obtain a photo ID from PennDOT, such as a birth certificate
“This is a significant change in the way that people vote in Pennsylvania and it is our goal to ensure that the voting process is accessible and open to all registered voters,” said County Councilman David White, the Council’s liaison to the Election Bureau and Voter Registration.
“In talking to residents, we recognize that people have questions and we want to be sure that people have the correct information on what constitutes acceptable photo ID, how they obtain a photo ID and how that impacts people who vote by absentee ballot,” said White.
On March 15, Pennsylvania became the 16th state in the nation to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, starting with the November general election.
To prepare voters for the new requirement, the DOS has a special VotesPA section on its website with various FAQ documents that detail the various forms of acceptable ID.
For example, an employee ID issued by a government agency or state institution of higher learning is acceptable if it has an expiration date that is current. Furthermore, a sticker with an expiration date can be affixed to an otherwise acceptable employee ID as long as the sticker is issued by the employer.
Types of acceptable ID must include the person’s name, photograph and an expiration date. This includes a Pa. driver’ license, PennDOT photo ID cards, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, an ID from an accredited public or private college or university, employee photo ID issued by a government entity, and an ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility or assisted living residents. Note these are only acceptable if they have an expiration date printed on the ID.
A Photo ID is provided by PennDOT for voting purposes if a voter doesn’t already have one. Voters must complete an application plus, to be eligible for a free photo ID, people must complete an affirmation form stating that they do not have a valid ID form and need one for voting purposes.
The new option provided by the Department of State was announced last week when the DOS realized that not all people are able to provide the documents necessary to obtain a photo ID from PennDOT. The new cards provide a safety net for those residents. They will be available at PennDOT’s Drivers License Centers beginning the last week of August.
For more information on the Department of State’s new option, people can visit the VotePA site and read Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele’s announcement from July 20.
“Leading up to the General Election, we will provide information to help residents understand this new law. We plan to conduct outreach to senior centers and through our libraries and human service agencies to ensure that people are informed and can access the necessary identification,” White said. “We don’t want anyone to forgo their right to vote because they can’t access a photo ID.”
Councilman White said senior citizens have already called the Voter Registration and Bureau of Election departments asking about the new law. Many questions are about absentee ballots. There will be new identification requirements for absentee ballots as of November.
Under the new law, voters must provide their driver’s license number, the last four digits of their Social Security number or a copy of an accepted photo ID when applying for an absentee ballot. Voters may provide the identifying information to the county over the phone, by email or mail.
“Our goal is to make this a smooth transition for voters. We are ready to help with your questions,” White said.
The voter ID laws have been facing legal challenges in various states, including Pennsylvania, so it’s important for voters to stay informed throughout the election cycle.