In March, Pennsylvania enacted one of the toughest Voter Identification laws in the country. Act 18 will be in effect for the November Presidential election. I am concerned the law's complicated new requirements may keep many Pennsylvania seniors from voting.
A national study showed that 18 percent of seniors do not have a currently valid photo ID. That translates to over 300,000 Pennsylvania seniors. Many of these elderly will have problems gathering the documentation required to get a photo ID and arranging for transportation to a photo center.
In his signing ceremony remarks Gov. Corbett pledged state agencies will add extra hours to transport people, particularly the elderly, to get identification cards from PennDOT's service centers. I hope this happens. But even with that support, it does appear likely some of the 18 percent of seniors who are without photo IDs will be discouraged from voting due to the complexity of this new law, misunderstanding its requirements, and the sheer difficulty of complying.
Act 18 will be challenged in lawsuits to be filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and others who argue that it is unconstitutional because it discriminates against the elderly, poor, disabled, and urban voters. Similar laws are being challenged across the country.
The courts will eventually tell us whether the new voter ID law is legal. In the meantime, seniors who want to vote this November should prepare now to comply with the law's strict requirements. A good place to start is the PennDOT webpage on the new voter ID law, www.dmv.state.pa.us/voter/voteridlaw.shtml.
Jeffrey A. Marshall
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom