2012-05-17 / Letters

Photo ID Law Significant Setback To Voting Rights

To The Editor:

In March 2012 a new voter photo ID law was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature that requires all voters have a government issued photo ID in order to vote in the general election this fall.

When I went to my township to vote on primary day April 24, 2012, I asked for information about this new law, and I was given a green information sheet but when I read it, I found that it left out some of the most important information that people will need to know in order apply for this ID.

The green sheet said that in order to apply for this ID, voters will simply need to complete an affirmation letter, but when I checked into this matter further, I found that filling out this form is only the first step in a long, involved and frustrating process.

Anyone with a valid driver’s license, passport or other government issued photo ID already has all the ID they will need to vote in this fall’s election. Everyone else (including anyone without a driver’s license, passport or other form of government-issued photo ID) will need to obtain a valid photo ID issued by PennDOT prior to the election. For the information of your readers who will need to apply for this ID, here are the steps you will have to go through:

Obtain the affirmation letter from your county government office or the PennDOT Web site.

Once you have signed the letter, take it to a PennDOT license and examination service center. Residents of Fulton County may not use the photo ID center in McConnellsburg for this purpose – it is not set up to issue this kind of ID. Voters will instead have to travel to Chambersburg or to another full-service license and examination center for this purpose.

You will need four proofs of identification. You must have your Social Security card and at least one of the following: a birth certificate with a raised sealed; a certificate of U.S. citizenship; a certificate of naturalization; or a valid U.S. passport plus two proofs of residency, such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form or tax records.

Students at least 18 years of age must bring proof of residency, including room assignment paperwork, and one bill with their dorm address on it. Other individuals who may not have any bills, leases, mortgage documents or utility bills in their name may bring the person with whom they are living along with that person’s driver’s license or other proof of residence.

If you are not currently driving but had a driver’s license issued to you prior to 1990, you can use PennDOT’s record of that license to obtain your new voter photo ID.

Obtaining your voter photo ID is free of charge.

I personally feel that it is outrageous that people who have voted all their lives now have to go through this cumbersome process in order to vote. When I checked the record about why this bill was brought into law, I found that it was supposed to protect against all forms of voter fraud in the state, but when I checked into the record, I found that there has been no proof of voter fraud found in the state of Pennsylvania, so I wonder whether this bill is really necessary or whether it is simply designed to deny certain people the right to vote. This law will disenfranchise thousands of voters in Pennsylvania. Throughout the United States, it is estimated that 21 million citizens who vote do not have a government-issued photo ID.

I would ask our representatives in the state Legislature to take whatever action they can to repeal this bill prior to the fall election because this law is in fact the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in more than a century.

If the law remains in effect, I would hope that our state representatives will put information about how citizens must comply with this law in the mailings that they send out to their constituents.

I also feel that our representatives need to provide transportation to and from the licensing centers so that our Fulton County seniors and handicapped will have a way to get to Chambersburg to obtain their voter ID.

The Pennsylvania Department of State suggests that voters call 1-877-868-3772 or visit www.VotesPA.com for further information. Or check the PennDOT Web site at www.DMV.State.PA.US and click on “Voter ID Law” or call them at 1-800-932-460.

Joy Dasher

Big Cove Tannery

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