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Keep Up With the New Voter ID Changes

Montgomery County Commissioners and the county's election board will host a public informational meeting on the new ID required on Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m. at MCCC Blue Bell.

Voters heading to the polls this fall will find the new Voter I.D. law in place all across Pennsylvania. Many have heard by now they’ll need to have identification to exercise their right, but few can keep up with the ever-changing rules regarding the update. And, to date, it is estimated that more than 10 percent of the state’s voters still do not have the acceptable I.D.

According to a press release from the Montgomery County commissioners and the county’s election board, there are more than 45,000 voters in the county alone that “do not have identification that meets the law’s requirements.”

The county’s offices have been busy trying to get the word out, distributing flyers like the PDF attached at right to notify residents of the changes. On Thursday, July 26, the county commissioners and election board also plan to host a meeting open to the public at 7 p.m. to explain it all. The meeting, facilitated by Ellen Kaplan, the vice president and policy director of the Committee of Seventy, a non-partisan voter watchdog group, will be held at the Science Center auditorium at the in Blue Bell.

“There is a great deal of confusion and concern about the new Voter I.D. law,” said Commissioner Leslie Richards, who is also chair of the county’s Election board. “This meeting is one of several steps we are taking to help ensure that the law, if upheld in court, does not prevent anyone who wants to vote from doing so.”

Richards said the goal of the night was not to spend time on guests to “trumpet [the new law’s] benefits or vent their displeasure,” but instead to hold a “constructive, informative, and helpful meeting where voters can objectively learn about the provisions of the law and how to obtain forms of identification the law requires.”

As of Friday, the Pennsylvania election officials also changed the latest information, making the county’s current flyer outdated already. The state has reduced the number of documents required to obtain a voter I.D. card.

According to an article on philly.com, voters without a valid driver’s license or other acceptable forms of photo I.D. WILL in fact still have to travel to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation office for a new card. However, starting the last week in August, getting a required card will be easier, as PennDOT allows residents without a birth certificate or social security card to still obtain the I.D.

Now, those that can provide their birth date and social security number (from memory) along with two forms as proof of residency, such as a utility bill, can get the card. The card is free.

"We believe these new cards will be a safety net for those who may not currently possess all of the documents they need for a standard photo ID from PennDot," Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a news release posted to philly.com. "Our goals are to continue making voters aware of the new voter ID law and helping those who may not have proper identification obtain it."

Speaking at the July 19 county commissioners meeting, Richards said such updates will be covered at the July 26 meeting.

"It feels to me, and I'm sure to many of you, that this law is changing every day," said Richards. "We are reviewing everything, every day, on how this law will be interpreted.”

With the rapid-fire of changes, Richards said the team may not have all the answers by July 26, but will find them.

"If questions can't be answered [at the Thursday meeting], there will be follow-up to those questions,” she said.

More is available on Patch. Additional coverage of the meeting will also be posted immediately after the public information session. 

Karen Barton July 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Many of those without the required ID do not have transportation and will not be able to get to the information meeting in Blue Bell -- even if they knew about it. The information must be distributed to churches, community centers, post offices, train stations, etc. where members of the public can pick it up and widely published in newspapers and on radio and TV.
brian July 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Agreed. Let's not allow excuses to flourish. Let's get everyone an ID (which they should have anyway).

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