Thomas Cavanaugh, a longtime Democratic committeeman in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood, has two words of advice for senior citizens fretting about the state’s new photo ID requirement: absentee ballot.
Though Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law requires anyone showing up at the polls in November to produce an approved photo identification, voters may not need a photo ID if they vote by absentee ballot or by alternative ballot, the term used when the voter is 65 years old or handicapped and has an inaccessible polling place.
Either ballot can be applied for by mail, sent to the voter’s registered address, filled out by the voter, and then sent back to election officials by mail well in advance of the Nov. 6 election.
- Absentee ballots are available to people who can’t get to their polling places on Election Day because of illness, physical disability, or religious reasons, and to people who expect to be absent because their “duties, occupation, or business require [them] to be elsewhere.”
- Alternative ballots are available to any voters who are at least 65 years old or disabled and who are assigned to inaccessible polling places. For example, in Philadelphia, virtually all of the city’s voting locations are considered inaccessible to the handicapped because of inadequate parking, according to City Commission chairwoman Stephanie Singer, who oversees the Board of Elections.
Applications for absentee and alternative ballots, as well as detailed descriptions of the new voter ID law, are available on a state-administered website, www.votespa.com, under the heading “Resource Center.”
SPECIAL SECURITY REQUIREMENTS:
- Those applying for one must include a piece of identifying information: either the last four digits of their Social Security number, the full number on a Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDot nondriver ID, or a photocopy of any form of photo ID acceptable for voting purposes under the new state law.
- People who intend to vote by alternative ballot will not be required to submit any identifying information beyond their names and addresses and a description of their disabilities, according to an application form available on the Department of State website.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the Western Pennsylvania Republican who was the prime sponsor of the voter ID law, said the legislature did not change the circumstances under which voters can seek absentee ballots. But he said it would be “a disservice” to advise elderly voters to go that route just to avoid the new photo ID requirement.
For full article see: Absentee ballots may offer a way around Pennsylvania voter ID law.
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