Primary Election is 'Practice' for Voter ID
County Council alerts residents to new Pennsylvania Voter ID requirements.
With just weeks until the April 24 Primary Election, Delaware County Council and county election officials want to educate residents about the new voter ID law, which takes effect in November in Pennsylvania.
Even though the law does not go into effect until the Nov. 6 General Election, voters will be asked to show photo ID at the polling place on April 24 as part of a “soft rollout” of the new requirement.
Poll workers will be required to request ID in the Primary Election, but voters can still vote a regular ballot if they do not have photo ID. The Department of State (DOS) requires that all poll workers across the Commonwealth present voters with a half-page handout detailing information on the ID requirement.
“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, 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,” White said.
“Keep in mind that this takes effect in November. Come November, all voters will be required to show a photo ID. On April 24, voters will simply be asked to show photo ID,” White said.
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 is having the “soft rollout” to help with the transition.
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.
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.
“After the Primary Election, we will 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 department 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.
In other states, the voter ID laws have been facing legal challenges, so it’s important for voters to stay informed throughout the election cycle.