PennCards approved as valid voter ID

IDs from Drexel, Pennsylvania State and Point Park universities and LaSalle College will not be valid

· March 20, 2012, 9:14 pm   ·  Updated March 21, 2012, 1:25 pm

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The date at the top right corner of the PennCard will make a big difference during the November elections this year.

PennCards will count as valid photo ID under the new voter ID law, while IDs from schools such as Drexel, Pennsylvania State and Point Park universities and LaSalle College will not.

The law, which passed on March 14, stipulates that a valid ID must have an expiration date. Currently, those four schools do not have expiration dates on their ID cards.

In addition to student IDs, other valid forms of identification include Pennsylvania drivers licenses and free photo IDs issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Out-of-state drivers licenses will not be valid at Pennsylvania polls.

There could be many more colleges in Pennsylvania facing this problem, said the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania Legal Director Vic Walczak.

Students will think that their college IDs will allow them to vote, “but you have to read the fine print,” he said.

“If you show up on election day and you can’t vote regularly, you have to vote provisionally, and there is no way that in the six-day window they give you that you’re going to be able to get the necessary ID to have your vote count.”

A provisional ballot is cast when there is dispute regarding a voter’s eligibility to vote. If the voter can prove his or her eligibility within the given time period, then the vote is counted.

The ACLU is mounting a legal challenge to the law, according to Walczak. They are seeking people who will have a difficult time getting proper IDs or won’t be able to get them at all. He said the case will be ready in about a month.

Penn State Director of Information Systems Joel Weidner said Penn State purposely removed expiration dates from their student IDs in 2004.

Student IDs indicate someone as part of the Penn State community when they try to acquire goods and services from the university, Weidner said. Expiration dates do not take into account students withdrawing from Penn State or the amount of time students are enrolled.

“I think we’re going to be having some discussion about [expiration dates] … that might change the way we think about this,” Weidner said in light of the new law. “But it doesn’t change the basic premise that a date on a card is not a trustworthy thing.”

Mike Sullivan, manager of the ID Gold Card Office at LaSalle College, said they just realized their IDs will not be valid at the polls.

“We’re going to have to do the research and carefully consider our options,” Sullivan said, adding that an expiration date would not increase the cost of making student IDs but that reissuing IDs to the entire student body of LaSalle would cost thousands of dollars.

Proponents of the law still believe it will prevent voter fraud.

“I think an expiration date helps assure authenticity,” said College Republicans Political Director and College freshman Anthony Cruz. However, he is in favor of having the polls accept all college IDs.

In addition, College Republicans Vice President and College sophomore Arielle Klepach does not believe the measure places an undue burden on students. Voters are able to get free valid IDs at PennDOT, she said.

“Since they’re students, they’re going to have access to transportation to get to those places,” Klepach said. She added that universities could add an expiration date to their IDs.

Penn Democrats continues to oppose the new law. The group is focusing on helping other universities have their IDs accepted at the polls, said Penn Dems Legislative Director and College freshman Nathalie Figueroa.

“The College Democrats of Pennsylvania are a very strong union,” she said, adding that Penn Dems reached out to the ACLU to offer help with the legal case.

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Voter ID bill passes in PA senate, draws debate

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