As the state's controversial Voter ID law began its latest judicial review Tuesday, Montgomery County said it was preparing to train the county's poll workers to recognize and accept a new county-issued form of identification that it expects to begin distributing to registered voters next week.
Exploiting an apparent loophole in the wording of the law that allows "care facilities" to distribute valid photo identification, the county plans to issue ID cards to any eligible county resident under the auspices of the Parkhouse nursing care facility in Upper Providence Township.
Service locations, documentation requirements, and other specific implementation details of the county's plan are expected later this week, but one area civic group urged voters to stick with PennDOT-issued identification, claiming that the Parkhouse-issued IDs and other forms of identification "are more likely to be challenged by poll workers" despite technically meeting the requirements of the law.
Group: County ID could contribute to "chaos" at polls on Election Day
The Philadelphia-based Committee of Seventy, a self-described non-partisan organization that says it "champions better government," said poll workers have "already been trained by their respective counties, or by poll watchers representing candidates," and that the use of new IDs announced by authorities in Montgomery and Allegheny counties could cause "chaos" on Election Day.
A spokesperson for Montgomery County disagreed, saying the county's poll workers would be ready to accept the new IDs on Nov. 6.
"Our voter services department has scheduled 19 trainings for our poll workers and they will be well aware of what IDs are acceptable, and one of those will be the Parkhouse-issued ID," county communications chief Frank X. Custer said via email. "We are moving full speed ahead to implement our plan. These cards will be legal, and the Corbett Administration agrees."
PennDOT, Department of State slash documentation requirements
For its part, PennDOT and the Pa. Department of State on Tuesday announced that visitors to PennDOT driver license centers would now be able to obtain voting-only ID cards with almost no documentation in hand.
To obtain a DOS-issued identification card, residents now only need to provide their name, date of birth, Social Security number, and an address. They do not need to provide proof of residence, the agencies said.
While the applicant waits, PennDOT will confirm with the DOS that her or she is a registered voter, at which point he or she will receive identification.
“We believe these updates to our process will meet the Supreme Court standard that voter ID cards be liberally accessible,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a statement distributed to the media.
The DOS-issued identification is only suitable for use at the polls and can not be used for general identification purposes, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson will likely take the revised PennDOT and DOS requirements into consideration as he follows the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's instructions to block implementation of the Voter ID law if he determines that voters are unable to easily obtain suitable identification or are otherwise being disenfranchised.
Simpson must issue a ruling by Oct. 2.
- Court begins review of Pa. voter ID law (CBS News)