Your Voting Rights
In light of Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID Law, many people are questioning how this will impact this year’s election and what steps they need to take to ensure they’re able to vote.
Below is some general information and helpful tips:
WILL THE LAW BE IMPLEMENTED?
The Commonwealth Court has ruled that the law must be implemented for the November 6th election. That decision has been appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the grounds that voting should be viewed as a fundamental right and that implementing the requirement will have an immediate harmful effect. Argument will be heard mid-September, and at that point the Court could postpone implementation, BUT, there is no guarantee that the law will be struck down. That being said, you are best to know the requirements and be prepared in the event you do have to comply.
PA VOTER ID LAW
The new law basically requires two things:
- That you show a valid photo ID each time you vote, and
- That the ID be one of the following types:
- Issued by the United States government, e.g., a U.S. passport
- Issued by the Commonwealth of PA, e.g., a driver’s license (NOTE: An expired driver’s license is okay as long as it is within 12 months after the expiration date)
- Issued by a PA municipality (e.g., city, county, borough, incorporated town) to municipal employees
- Issued by an accredited PA public or private institution of higher learning, e.g., a student ID card
- Issued by a PA care facility, which includes a long‐term care nursing facility, an assisted living residence or a personal care home
- Issued by U.S. Armed Forces branches or their reserves, including the PA National Guard (NOTE: The ID holder can be a veteran or current member; the expiration date can be indefinite
HOW TO OBTAIN A VOTER PHOTO ID
Go to a PennDOT Drivers License Center and tell the clerk you want to obtain a Department of State Voter Identification Card.
You will need to have the following:
- Social Security number (If the customer has been issued an SSN)
- Proof of residency (lease agreements, mortgage documents, utility bills, tax records)
- Previous name and/or address if changed in the past 12 months
You will also need to fill out an application form and sign an affirmation that you are a registered voter and have no other form of photo identification.
Once you get the ID, it is valid for 10 years.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I TRY TO VOTE WITHOUT HAVING PHOTO ID?
You will not be allowed to vote normally, but may instead cast a paper ballot which is called a provisional ballot. You then have 6 days to affirm your identity with the County Board of Elections.
KEEP IN MIND, BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY STEPS REGARDING OBTAINING A PHOTO ID, YOU MUST FIRST BE REGISTERED TO VOTE!
TO REGISTER TO VOTE:
- Go to the County Voter Registration Office (In Allegheny County at the Allegheny County Elections Division, Room 609 of the County Office Building, located at the corner of Ross Street and Forbes Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh, Pa., 15219. Regular business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The telephone number is (412) 350-4510)
- Go to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website and download a Voter Registration Application and then either hand deliver it or mail it in.
As always, for any questions regarding any of these issues, or to find an attorney, contact the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (412) 261-5555 or visit the ACBA’s new website, www.pittsburghlawyerfinder.org.