Pennsylvania voter ID regulation changed

By Brandon Desiderio
September 9, 2012

Over the summer a controversial law was introduced in Pennsylvania that, according to many opposed to the legislative move, could drastically decrease the number of Pennsylvanian voters come Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

This law will make it mandatory for every Pennsylvanian voter to show an acceptable form of ID before they enter the voting booth.

Voters can use everything from a military license to a U.S. passport, and most residents will be able to comply with the ID mandate – but not all.

“I think there’ll be a lot of people who are not going to have the right ID,” Cathy Yungmann, associate professor of communication, said. “And they’re going to be justifiably angry that we can’t let them vote.”

Yungmann serves as secretary on the board of directors for the Delaware County League of Women Voters.

She also volunteers at polling locations in her ward of Haverford Township – a 10-minute drive from Radnor, Pa.

She explained that the voter ID law came into effect in time for the recent local election in Haverford, although it served only as a test-run for both volunteers and voters to become familiar with the process; voters without ID were still able to participate.

Yet, she said, not everyone supported the new measures.

“A lot of people would express their opinion about it,” Yungmann said. “In the ward where I work, it was divided exactly down the line. The people who were against it, that talked about it, were all Democrats.

 And the people who were for it, and thought it was a good idea, were almost all Republicans.”

The ID mandate in Pennsylvania mirrors many similar measures around the nation aimed at decreasing voter fraud – an admittedly insignificant portion of voters who risk a five-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine in order to vote more than once, usually under the identity of a recently deceased family member.

“From the perspective of a member of the League of Women Voters, who believe that everyone should be able to vote who’s constitutionally entitled to, I think it’s an awful, awful law,” Yungmann said, asserting that the margin of error that voter fraud covers is minor, even nonexistent in some states. “And the League’s state position is firmly against it.”

Even without a valid form of ID, however, voters who make their ways to the polls on Election Day will still be allowed to vote, as long as they’re willing to sign an affidavit assuring that they are who they say they are.

Every Cabrini student and faculty member has no reason to go to such lengths, however: the college’s ID card is an accepted form of identification – as long as they have the version introduced this fall, on which is printed a verifiable expiration date. Returning students with the older ID card can exchange it with Public Safety for the new version, free of charge, as long as they mention that it’s for voting purposes.

Yungmann cautions that the voting process will become longer as a result of this legislation, nevertheless, and with possible repercussions in tow.

“When you go pay for something with a credit card, do you walk up to the cashier with your credit card out already?” Yungmann said. “That’s the process that’s going to happen – so how many people are going to forget to bring it, and they’re going to have to go home? Are they going to bother to come back?”

Previous attempts at repealing the law were dismissed in a local Pennsylvania court on Aug. 15. An appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be heard on the issue Thursday, Sept. 13, the day of this article’s printing.

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Brandon Desiderio

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