County initiates Voter ID law
Monroe County will follow suit with a controversial law requiring all voters to show a photo identification card before participating in the democratic process beginning this year.
“Everyone will have to show a government-issued photo identification at the polls in June,” said Monroe County Circuit Clerk Judy Butler.
The law, which some claim will disproportionately affect women and disenfranchise groups like minorities and those living in poverty, was recently struck down as unconstitutional by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley.
“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal,” McGinley wrote in a 103-page decision.
Both Pennsylvania and Mississippi passed what is known as the “strict” Voter ID Law, which requires voters to show a government-issued photo before their ballot can be counted. If unable to present a government-issued photo, a provisional ballot is filled out and held for a short period of time after the election, which is usually a few days. If the voter returns with acceptable ID, the vote is counted. If not, the vote is never counted.
The non-strict Voter ID Law, now in effect in Alabama and 14 other states, allows voters who do not possess government-issued ID other options for casting a ballot. Signing an affidavit of identity or being vouched for by a poll worker are a couple of alternatives to the producing a government-issued ID.
A total 34 states have passed some form of Voter ID Law. Supporters of this law claim it will help deter voter fraud.
According to Butler, drivers licenses, state-issued IDs, U.S. passports, government employee ID, firearms licenses, student photo IDs, U.S. military IDs, and tribal photo IDs will all be suitable forms of identification.
In order to vote without one of these, a voter ID card must be obtained. A photo and application can be submitted at the Monroe County Circuit Clerk’s office. The application is then uploaded and the card issued through a third party vendor. The turnaround time is estimated to be about two weeks.
As for who the new law will affect, Butler is uncertain.
“I don’t know who will be affected. The state estimates that only one to two percent don’t already possess one of these IDs,” Butler said.
The problem for some may be that the name on a person’s ID does not match with the name on voter registration rolls. An example would be someone who has gotten divorced but didn’t do a proper name change at the clerk’s office.
“A lot of times people just don’t think to notify us when they change their name or address,” said Butler, who stated that name and address forms are available at the polling place and can typically be processed on the spot.
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