Pennsylvania recently passed a law that requires citizens to present a photo identification before voting—despite the fact that more than 750,000 eligible Pennsylvania citizens lack the photo identification required by the law. For Pennsylvania residents like Wilola Lee, whose birth certificate was destroyed in a fire ten years ago, trying to navigate the process of acquiring a photo identification can be extremely difficult.
The common justification for voter ID laws is that they prevent voter impersonation fraud and ensure the integrity of elections. However, Pennsylvania has admitted that there are zero documented cases of fraud at the polls in Pennsylvania. Currently, four civil rights groups are challenging the law and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division opened an investigation to determine whether the law complies with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
State officials have a plan in place to distribute free identification cards to eligible voters, but the cards will not be available until late August and the details of the plan are still vague. Joe Certaine of the Pennsylvania Voter I.D. Coalition said, “There are all kinds of problems associated with the implementation of this law that wasn't considered by the legislature when they drafted the law.”
Additionally, for many voters the process of acquiring a photo identification is not as simple as bringing the required documents to the DMV. Nearly 500,000 voters in 10 states with strict ID requirements live in households without vehicles and live at least ten miles away from an office that issues ID. Making matters worse, many such offices are open fewer than two days a week.