Saturday, August 18, 2012

PA's Voter ID Law: Suggestions to Help Ensure Everyone's Voting Rights

Earlier this week, Commonwealth Court judge upheld Pennsylvania’s restrictive Voter ID Law.  It is now going to the PA Supreme Court on appeal -- See ACLU blog post entitled "Voter ID: Reviewing the ruling, and our next steps."

As that final decision is not likely to be made until near Election Day, we need to help make sure that everyone knows the law and is ready with their id and if they are disenfranchised, let them know what they can do.  Here are my suggestions:

1.       Make sure your name on your photo ID matches how you are registered (you can check out how you appear on the rolls at   If you use the online check, enter your name as it appears on your photo id.  If no match appears, then you will need to register for a "name change" in order to ensure a match;
2.       If you don't have a valid id, you need to jump through the hoops put in place by the Department of State and PennDOT.  More info is available at;
3.       Educate your friends and neighbors about the law:
a.        It might be a good idea to carry around some voter registration applications (they can be picked up at your county elections office) to assist those who might have a problem.
b.      Also the ACLU has a great handout on this. Go to for info, ordering free cards, and downloading a pdf version of the card;
4.       If you are a poll worker, please stay in that position to help make sure that every eligible voter gets to vote and is not denied because of a slight difference in their name; and
5.       If you are not a poll worker, consider working with the local political parties or the candidate of your choice to become a poll watcher inside the polls.  Then if you see any problems you can either text a co-worker who is standing outside the polls or leave your poll watching to follow the person outside who was disenfranchised and suggest they call
a.       The voter protection hot line at 1-(866) Our-Vote / 1-(866) 687-8683 for English and espaƱol ;
b.      Their local party headquarters and ask to speak the voter protection contact; and/or
c.       Their local county elections office if that wasn’t already done before they left the polls. The phone numbers for the elections office are in the blue pages of your phone directory.  BTW, the elections offices are likely to be overwhelmed on election day with calls; they were in 2008 here in Centre County  and I expect it to be even more clogged up this year because of this law. 

Posted by Joanne Tosti-Vasey, Immediate Past President of PA NOW and member of the PA NOW Executive Committee