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Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carole Aichele came to Rosemont Presbyterian Village Friday to tout the state’s efforts to get approved identification for residents of retirement and nursing centers for voting in November. Aichele appeared with Radnor State Rep. William Adolph to answer questions about the new law. At the meeting Aichele unveiled a new identification paper, provided by the care facility, which is acceptable for voting.
“There will be no problem with your getting photo ID,” Aichele told about 30 seniors gathered in the community room of the retirement center. “We will notify the judges of election that this is acceptable ID for you.”
“We’re going to do this all over Pennsylvania,” Aichele said holding up a sample of the form. “There are 400 care facilities across the state and they will be generating these kinds of IDs.” Aichele said that the identifications would be provided by the health-care facilities. The ID will include the name of the facility, the picture, the person’s name and an expiration date. The nursing home then needs to send the Department of State a copy of names on the IDs.
Nan Lansinger, director of public relations at Saunders House in Wynnewood, said the their facility is now looking to create a policy/procedure for issuing ids for the residents.
Under the new law, Aichele said, residents requesting an absentee ballot will not need a photo ID if they put the last four digits of their Social Security number or their Pennsylvania driver’s-license number on the ballot. She said present state databases are sufficient to protect the integrity of the vote using those numbers. To protect the voters’ identity, the absentee ballot will now fold shut so no one can see those numbers.
Aichele said that Pennsylvania is the 16th state to require photo ID and she cited a number of attempted voter frauds going back to the 1990s. She also mentioned the case of a man who identified himself as Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General then, was offered his ballot.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 state residents to stop the photo-ID law. “Far from protecting the integrity of Pennsylvania elections, the photo law will lead to elections that are no longer free and equal,” the ACLU says in the lawsuit. “It will create an undue burden on thousands of eligible voters.”
Aichele was dismissive of critics of the law, saying the press had made this more difficult than it really is. She defended the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, saying it has been dealing with these types of ID issues for the past 50 years. PennDOT has handled 600 requests for non-driver voter IDs to date and is spending $1 million to cover the photo-ID program. She said the state is also spending $3-4 million as part of a federal grant from the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed in 2002 to prevent a recurrence of difficulties in the 2000 presidential election.
Voters with questions can call 1-877-VOTES-PA or on the Web go to votespa.com.
Other acceptable IDs for voting are military, municipality employee, college and passports but they must have expiration dates on them. Aichele said schools in the state university system are adding expiration dates. A call to area colleges found that Villanova and Eastern universities do not now have expiration dates on their IDs. Jonathan Gust, director of media relations at Villanova, said the university has convened a group to discuss this. He said Villanova realizes it is something important. St. Joseph’s University is redesigning its card and looking to including the expiration date, said Harriet K. Goodheart, assistant vice president of St. Joseph’s.
“Photo ID will help us make sure every vote counts and it counts correctly,” Aichele said. “There is still a tremendous amount of responsibility on judges of elections, minority and majority inspectors and the honesty of the people who come in to vote.”
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