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Non-partisan Push to Simplify Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

by Mackenzie Krott, published

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

Amid the fiercely partisan court battle over Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law is a push from a coalition of non-partisan groups aiming to educate voters on how the new law will affect them at the polls this November. The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, made up of nearly 80 advocacy groups and organizations has spent the past four months aggressively pushing their non-partisan campaign, making sure voters are informed about the law and in possession of proper identification.

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law is among the most aggressive in the country, and officially goes into effect on November 6. However, a highly contested court case between the law’s Republican backers and the American Civil Liberties Union threatens to block that from happening.

The ACLU is representing Pennsylvania voters who claim this law will deny them the opportunity to vote because they cannot obtain the necessary form of identification. Upwards of 1.5 million voters in the state may be turned away because they don’t have the right ID. The ACLU and others who oppose the law claim Republicans are unfairly targeting groups that traditionally tend to vote Democrat, including the elderly, the poor and many minority groups in urban areas.

Supporters of the law claim it will prevent voter fraud and believe providing a photo ID is not excessively burdensome to voters.  If the law stands, Pennsylvania, already an important swing state, will be one of the most contested and controversial states throughout the presidential election.

One of the most crucial factors in this case is that many Pennsylvanians know nothing about the law and the complications it may cause them on Election Day.

A poll conducted by Matt Barreto, a political scientist from the University of Washington, was used in court to illustrate the lack of knowledge about the law among Pennsylvania voters. The poll found that 34% of registered voters knew nothing about the new photo ID regulation.

In light of this, groups and individuals across the state have put partisan beliefs aside to join forces in hopes of getting as many people prepared to vote as possible.

The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition has done a variety of things to increase PA voters’ knowledge of the law. They’ve trained speakers to talk to voters at community centers and libraries, set up a Voter ID hotline, created multiple online guides for voters, and have even began to run a volunteer-based field campaign sending people door- to-door in multiple communities.

In addition, Philadelphia City Council has partnered with the coalition to help clear up confusion about the new law.

“We’re going to be in the position to provide transportation for individuals that need to be taken to voter ID centers,"Council President Darrell Clarke said Monday.

Lack of transportation and means to purchase a photo ID seem to be most problematic for voters, especially in Philadelphia where a staggering 43% of registered voters lack a correct form of photo ID.

There is also concern with the lack of preparedness of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation ID centers. These locations may not be ready to handle the influx of ID seekers they will receive over the next few months, and also have workers who are not properly informed of the new law, which may lead to further confusion and stress among voters seeking identification.

This leaves many, especially those against the law, wondering if Pennsylvania is ready to enforce it come November.  The efforts of non-partisan groups have been substantial, but a law of this nature passed so close to Election Day is bound to create confusion and frustration among voters come November.

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