Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, PA - Pennsylvanians who need a photo ID, now required for voting, can get one from the state Department of Transportation free of charge - but a new report says finding out about it is no easy task.
During June and July, says Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, her group sent volunteers on 47 visits to 43 PennDOT license centers around the state to get a free photo ID.
"Our volunteers found there was no signage and limited information in about half the sites, and the forms that are necessary to secure a free ID were not readily available."
Ward says forging ahead with the law, as it's being handled now, may violate a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
"In order for state voter ID laws to be constitutional, the states cannot unduly burden voters and they have to ensure that IDs are available for free to those who need them. That is not happening in Pennsylvania."
Ward says confusion over IDs in Pennsylvania is likely to multiply soon.
"There is a new ID that is being rolled out by the Department of State at the end of the month, and we're very concerned that adding a new process will make matters worse rather than improving them."
Another problem, she says, is that the paperwork required to get a photo ID hasn't been updated to include information about Pennsylvania's voter ID law. With just a couple of months left until Election Day, the report recommends delaying implementation of the law until it's clear and consistent and can be done without risking disenfranchising of voters.
The report is online at pennbpc.org.