Pennsylvania, Virginia Governors Make Voter ID a Little Easier to Get


[Image courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News]

It’s no secret that battles over requiring photo ID at the polls have dominated the conversation over the last several years – but in the last week, two GOP governors have made the decision to make the process for getting an ID a little easier.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett has just announced that the state will no longer require a birth certificate for non-driver photo IDs that will satisfy the state’s new law which will be in effect for the November general election:

State agencies can now certify the birth records of Pennsylvania natives without requiring them to pay $10 for a duplicate birth certificate with a raised seal. A person seeking the non-driver photo ID must visit a PennDOT driver’s license center.

A birth certificate had been one of the documents required to get a state photo ID for the first time. The applicant will be notified by mail when to pick up the photo ID card once the Department of Health verifies that it has the birth record on file.

The Department of State said the process is supposed to take 10 days, shortening a months-long period that some people have waited recently to receive a birth certificate.

In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell ordered the State Board of Elections to send voter cards after signing a voter ID bill that passed a fiercely and evenly divided General Assembly. The new round of voter cards, which will cost the state $1.4 million, are part of a larger effort to educate Virginia voters about the new law:

This Executive Order directs the State Board of Elections to take necessary steps to ensure that all eligible Virginia voters are made aware of the provisions of these new laws and are given the necessary information in order to provide an appropriate form of identification when voting. This Executive Order requests that local election officials cooperate in these efforts. This Executive Order also directs the State Board of Elections to provide all registered voters with a new voter registration card, one of the acceptable forms of identification for use at the polling place.

Whatever the reason for these actions – both laws either are or will soon be the subject of litigation, and Virginia’s must receive federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act – it’s significant that governors who support ID are taking steps to shorten the distance between voters and the required ID.

This doesn’t end the debate over voter ID – but in the current heated environment it’s encouraging to see any movement toward solving the problem as opposed to winning the argument.

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