They really, really don’t want you to vote

Ohio in 2006 went through what Pennsylvania is currently going through regarding new barriers to casting a ballot, so I sympathize. The government in Pennsylvania obviously doesn’t believe educating voters on the complex rules they just rammed through is a high priority, or they’d be doing a better job on voter education. You are on your own.

First, good job, Pennsylvania colleges! This is what happens when you’re dealing with people who really want to fix a (newly-created) problem, and simply allow people to vote. They fix it. They don’t add layer after layer of confusion and sworn affidavits and threats and six-day validation periods. They just fix it:

For college students attending one of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the opportunity to vote Nov. 6 comes down to a sticker.
For students who do not have a state driver’s license, the school ID is their access to a voting booth, and the majority of Pennsylvania student IDs do not meet the new requirement.
Out of 110 Pennsylvania colleges and universities surveyed in April by the consumer group PennPIRG, 15 printed IDs with expiration dates.
Updates for identification cards will vary by campus, although the majority are choosing to update by including a sticker with an expiration date, Marshall said.

I went to the PA Secretary of State site next. I don’t know why I’d be on the site at all, given that many in Pennsylvania are completely unaware that the law has changed dramatically, but let’s say I stumbled on it by accident perhaps while submitting my corporate filing:

All photo IDs must contain an expiration date that is current, unless noted otherwise. Acceptable IDs include:
• Photo IDs issued by the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
• Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date)
• Valid U.S. passport
• U.S. military ID – active duty and retired military (a military or veteran’s ID must designate an expiration date or designate that the expiration date is indefinite). Military dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date
• Employee photo ID issued by Federal, PA, County or Municipal government
• Photo ID cards from an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning
• Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences or personal care homes

This is a very restrictive law, much more restrictive than the Ohio law that went in in 2006. If a Pennsylvania voter happened to stumble on these new rules, and realized they did not have a photo ID, because they don’t drive, say, because they are an urban-American with access to public transportation they would then go to the PennDOT site:

If a voter does not POSSESS PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION FOR VOTING PURPOSES as defined at section 102(z.5)(2) of the Pennsylvania Election Code (25 P.S. § 2602(z.5)(2)) and requires proof of identification for voting purposes, the following applies:
You must declare under oath or affirmation by completing the Oath/ Affirmation Voter ID form that you do not possess any of the following forms of identification: In particular,..

It goes on from there, and is too long to repeat here. Let’s say you’ve completed your Oath/Affirmation Voter ID Form, which means you don’t have ID, and now you’re ready to get the ID card:

To obtain a Pennsylvania Photo Identification card, an individual needs to visit a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver License Center with a completed Application for an Initial Photo Identification Card; form DL-54A, and the following:

Social Security Card
One of the following:
• Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
• Certificate of Naturalization
• Valid U.S. Passport
• *Birth Certificate with a raised seal
• Two proofs of **residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records
*If they do not have a birth certificate with a raised seal and are a Pennsylvania native; and do not have one of the acceptable, alternative forms of photo identification to vote; and will provide a signed oath/affirmation form, when visiting the PennDOT driver license center, they must:
• Tell the PennDOT customer service representative they are a Pennsylvania native who needs a photo ID for voting purposes, and do not have a certified copy of their birth certificate;
• Sign an oath/affirmation that they do not have an acceptable form of ID for voting purposes and the photo ID is needed for voting purposes;
• Show a Social Security card and two proofs of residence, such as a deed, lease, tax bill, or utility bill;
• Fill out a DL-54A form requesting a non-driver photo ID and;
• Complete the HD01564F (Request for Certification of Birth Record for Voter ID Purposes Only) form, which collects information such as birth name, mother and father’s name and place of birth. This Department of Health form is available at all Driver Licensing Centers.
PennDOT will then forward the completed form to the Department of Health, which maintains birth records. After verifying the birth record is on file, the Department of Health will securely transmit this information to PennDOT. PennDOT will then notify them by letter that their birth record has been confirmed. They may then return to any driver license center, with the above noted documentation, to receive your free photo ID for voting purposes. This verification process will take about ten days and does not require the payment of a fee.

Step Two and Step Three follow. I think I might just decide to get a driver’s license at this point. What the hell. I’m 3/4 of the way there jumping through all the hoops to get the ID card.
Seriously, though, this law is a huge lift for democracy enthusiasts in Pennsylvania. The voter ID law in Ohio is much less restrictive and it was an enormous amount of work educating people on that in 2006. If any of you can help tell PA voters with your Facebooks and your Twitters, I think that would be a great thing to do. People have to know the law has changed before they can even try to comply with it.

128 replies
  1. 1
    dp says:

    Good Lord, that’s blatant.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Wait, so a passport is a good enough ID to vote, but not a good enough ID to get a voter ID card?

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Barack Obama is going to win Pennsylvania by a 7-4 vote.

  4. 4

    These people are vile. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and it sickens me to see what this new regime is doing. I hope to hell the federales are gearing up to put an end to this before election day.

  5. 5
    Kay says:


    Conservatives seem to have an ideological objection to passports, just generally. We ran into the same thing in Ohio. They’re like birth certificates, apparently. They’ll need witness testimony, and an agent who saw it issued.

  6. 6
    PeakVT says:

    I hope some court slaps the law down. That “gonna allow Governor Romney to win” clip should be evidence enough to a fair court, if such things still exist.

  7. 7
    GregB says:

    Republicans, less regulations for corporations and more regulations for living humans.

    It’s almost a parody that they have created layers and layers of bureaucracy for voters and for pregnant women and no one ever says that out loud.

  8. 8

    Yes, I saw that, too. I don’t know; maybe it’s only meant to confuse people. Everything in that shitty law is meant to trip people up. I don’t know whether I’m more sad or angry.

  9. 9
    Raven says:

    Here’s an article about the new drivers license laws in Georgia and the cluster-fuck it is causing.

    Under the new rules, customers applying for or renewing a driver’s license must go to a Department of Driver Services customer service center in person and present an original or certified birth certificate, Social Security card and two documents proving where they live. That requirement was already in place for people applying for their first license or I.D. card. The new rules extend that requirement to renewals and reinstatements. Also, the first renewal after the law change must be done in person, not online.

  10. 10
    Kay says:


    What’s really frightening is that they get more and more restrictive. Ohio’s law was HUGE in 2006. They then came back into power and put in the most restrictive law in the country, which we stopped using the “citizen veto” threat.

    I swear, they are trying to hit a goal here. The restrictions aren’t tight enough, so they put in some new ones for the next election.

  11. 11
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    And you know what the best part is? No one in the media will mention this, ever. Should Obama lose Pennsylvania this year, as a result of lower turnout in urban/poor areas, get ready for a cavalcade of “Real Middle Americans don’t trust Obama.” And I’d like to see how he wins the election without PA.

    Voting is a right, not a privilege, not a perk. End of fucking story. Anyone trying to mess with it can’t be trusted.

  12. 12
    Baud says:


    What’s really frightening is that they get more and more restrictive.

    Soon you’re going to need a photo of yourself coming out of your mother’s womb under the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign in order to vote.

  13. 13
    Valdivia says:

    I am not on FB but did email my friends to pass it on. This just makes me angry as all hell.

  14. 14
    Maude says:

    @Kay: @Kay:
    They’d be happy if only the 27% could vote.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Interestingly, registering to vote is not complicated. But voting itself? Well, we can make that complicated. Very. Because we want you damn poor and brown people to stay away from the polls because you may very well not vote in the interests of the 1%, you fucking ingrates. You’re like damn Egyptians and Iraqis, voting for your own interest, not for corporate interest, damn you all to hell. Assholes.

  16. 16
    ruemara says:

    Bless you, Kay and Raven. I’m trying to collect and pass this stuff on.

  17. 17
    Hunter Gathers says:


    I swear, they are trying to hit a goal here.

    The goal is complete conservative dominance of every form of government in the country. White males only control 90% of everything now. They want that ten percent back. And if some lazy poors, thieving minorities or elderly people who made bad life choices and didn’t marry into money have to have basic rights denied to them, so be it.

    The rich white men who run ALEC and who give Super PACS tens of millions of dollars didn’t put in the hard work of lying, cheating and stealing their way to millions and billions just to sit back and be lectured by some Kenyan half-breed nigger on how that might have to pitch in an extra 4 cents on every dollar they earn that isn’t funneled through the Caymans, or to be told that those whores who won’t fuck them for free have the right to decide what they can do with their bodies, or that limp-wristed faggots deserve some kind of equality. Those sort of things eat away at the rich white man’s soul. It must be stopped. Things were better before the Civil War.. They are working as hard as they can to bring those days back.

  18. 18
    Kane says:

    The estimated 750,000 voters who do not have state-issued IDs in Pennsylvania surpasses President Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. Many of the voters without ID are in poor and minority communities — typically blocs that vote Democratic.

    It’s amazing that they are getting away with this.

  19. 19


    Under the new rules, customers applying for or renewing a driver’s license must go to a Department of Driver Services customer service center in person and present an original or certified birth certificate, Social Security card and two documents proving where they live.

    Then they must recite the Pledge of Allegiance backward while standing on their head. It seems to have about as much relevance for a driver’s license renewal.

  20. 20
    Valdivia says:


    Exactly. Because voting is a privilege. But killing the environment with pollutants is a right!

  21. 21
    Yutsano says:

    Isn’t OFA working on making sure voters in these states are able to meet the restrictions? I thought I read that somewhere.

  22. 22
    owlbear1 says:

    Republicans are such fucking cowards.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    @Roger Moore: Stand on their head and stack bb’s as my old man always said!

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    Does the language for these laws come out of some RW thinktank like the immigration bills do? I think that’s where the battle needs to be fought, somehow, starting with heavily publicizing how national organizations are trying to usurp “state sovereignty.”

  25. 25
    Bizono says:

    I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for over 10 years, and like most of you, follow the news closely. The first I became aware of this was AFTER the bill had been signed into law. I went to the polls for the primary in April and was informed that for the general, I’d need to show a photo ID.

    The PA GOP are rotten, horrible bastards.

  26. 26
    amk says:

    Time for international “election observers” from UN ? The world’s oldest democracy. What a joke it has become.

  27. 27
    Valdivia says:

    I have a non trolly question as a naturalized American who comes from a country where people have national ids that are used for voting but these are FREE. It’s like a social security number that is given to you when you are born (your place in the national registry) and when you turn 18 you go to your local registry office, pose for a photo and then a week later pick up that id. This id is your passport for everything. No one accepts drivers licenses as forms of id, just the Cedula de Identidad.

    If these a-holes really cared about the integrity of voting why not make the system like that instead of these incredible complicated systems (government ones at that, which they are supposed to hate no?). Why not make the social security card everyone goes to get, a picture id that one can use to vote? Isn’t that just easier?

    I know, they don’t want people to vote, they just want everyone not on their team to not vote. Ugh.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Seriously, Kay, you’re doing yeoman work with voting rights issues. You’re a treasure.

  29. 29
    PeakVT says:

    @Yutsano: I’m sure they are trying, but in PA to get all the people possibly affected (750,000) re-registered they’d have to do something like 10,000 per day every business day until the election.

    @trollhattan: ALEC, probably.

  30. 30
    The Dangerman says:

    There should be an army of people volunteering to take little ol’ ladies and others that can’t get to one of the approved state offices…

    …and fucking swamp them in their own paperwork.

    I can see riots in Philadelphia in the future (probably instigated by the White Panthers showing up to make sure the “right” people vote).

  31. 31
    grandpa john says:

    Well maybe sometimes within the next 200 or so years the majority of the american public will finally realize the truth of the mantra that has been preached to them for years; that is ” actions, such as elections, have consequences . There is more than a dimes worth of difference in the 2 parties. every vote counts, if you want certain kind of government then you have to get off your ass and support people who have the same political philosophy as you do.
    See what is so hard about that

  32. 32

    We have similar laws in Tennessee. In Memphis, our predominantly Democratic county, the public library is issuing free library cards which double as an official ID for voting and other purposes.

    This is what it’s going to take. They crushed ACORN and groups like that but there will always be another avenue around it. Get the Dem-leaning counties to issue free IDs or whatever.

  33. 33
    amk says:

    @grandpa john: Hear, hear.

  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Why do you need an SS card and a passport?

    Passport establishes citizenship, and age, which is a voting issue. SS card just establishes your membership in our social-provision system — it’s a tax ID number. And that’s not a voting issue.

  35. 35
    Nellcote says:

    Instead of bashing PBO why isn’t Ed Rendell screaming about this crap?

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    All that’s missing is engaging a witch doctor to conjure up major storms in selected precincts to knock out the power on Election Day.

    But then, I admit to not having read the entirety of the legislation, so cannot vouchsafe that such is not in there somewhere.

  37. 37
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Nellcote: Rendell’s doing Wall Street’s bidding. He doesn’t give a shit about the Democratic party.

  38. 38
    Svensker says:


    Well, because having a national I.D. card is Stalinist. But forcing everyone to conform to strange I.D. requirements is freedom. See?

  39. 39
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @PeakVT: 10,000 every business day. So I just got on the OFA website and the only activities in July are phone banking, canvassing, and registering new voters. Semi-useless.

    I would be happy to spend one day a week driving people to the DMV and helping with birth certs and paperwork, but I can’t find anywhere to volunteer. League of Women Voters isn’t organizing this. The AA fraternities are supposed to be on it, but I can’t find anything there either.

    So WTF? Isn’t anyone on top of this?

  40. 40
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    this is about the norm for dealing with the state.

  41. 41
    Maude says:

    @Davis X. Machina:
    Because shut up that’s why.

  42. 42
    Quarks says:

    “Two proofs of **residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records.”

    You know, I have been in roommate situations where both names are on the lease, but only one name is on the utility bills (usually because of credit history issues.) And I know of many cases where a significant other or relative moved in but was never put on any of the leases/utility bills/mortgage information because it was too much of a bother. And one case where the relative moved in precisely because he no longer had a job/unemployment benefits, and therefore, wasn’t getting any W2 forms. None of this is unusual (or confined to working classes), and I don’t see any plans to handle cases like this.

  43. 43
    PeakVT says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: I don’t know what’s going on with OFA or anyone else. But let me point out that if getting each person registered requires 2 hours from a volunteer, then OFA would need 2500 full-time volunteers dedicated to the task. Or, for Philly alone, something like 750.

    This PA law is a massive disenfranchisement and trying to work through for each voter would/will be a massive resource sink, which the Republican undoubtedly know.

  44. 44
    Valdivia says:


    Hits head on desk repeatedly. I actually wish a Dem would propose a national id law run by the federal govt that makes it super easy and FREE to get voters into booths. Can you imagine the wails? But–it would be a good way to hoist them by their own petard.

  45. 45
    Valdivia says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    you do know that the OFA canvassers actually ask people if they are registered to vote, if they know about the voting laws, and I imagine now tell people what to do? My experience is that they are always on top of this.

    ETA: though as PeakVT points out having people dedicated to re-registering people would be massive.

  46. 46

    So… which US State will be the first one to finally just go for it, and formally declare legal Apartheid?

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @NotMax: I was leaning towards Texas, meself.

  49. 49
    amk says:

    @NotMax: Beat me to it.

    @Yutsano: Too much brown skin there to pull it off.

  50. 50
    PeakVT says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: Meh, de-facto apartheid works well enough for Alabama and Mississippi.

  51. 51


    I actually wish a Dem would propose a national id law run by the federal govt that makes it super easy and FREE to get voters into booths.

    IMO this would be a subtle-but-aggressive way to force the issue into the public eye.

    Dem puts up the Bill. Boehner of course blocks it. Now the Dems can fill every news show and twitter feed with “hey, why is the GOP against a free Federal Voter-ID card, to fight fraud?” GOP is then forced to waste some number of news cycles dealing with the issue one way or the other (i.e. on the defensive).

    They need a few more anvils thrown at them. The Dems aren’t nearly as good at that as they need to be.

  52. 52
    kim walker says:

    I registered to vote in Pennsylvania in 2008,right before I moved to Canada. I’ve requested absentee ballots in the past and have always received and then voted. After reading this post, I went to the PA VOTE site to check if the rules for absentee voting had changed as they were always pretty restrictive. I also checked to make sure I was still on the registered voter list. My name did not come up. Any ideas on who to contact?

  53. 53
    Dre says:


    Yep, this is the same set of requirements I have to meet to renew my FL driver’s license. A license that I’ve had over ten years (last time, I renewed by sending a form in by mail, this time, I need to find a bunch of bills–which since i get most of my bills delivered online is sort of hard).

  54. 54
    Valdivia says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    I think the fighting it in court and educating voters or blocking it via citizen veto (as was done in Ohio) are good ways to do this for now. But as you point out–Dems need to take this issue and jujitsu the hell out of it. Aggressively.

  55. 55
    Valdivia says:

    @kim walker:

    go to the OFA site for you state and send them an email. Contact the League of Women’s Voters and ask. Your Rep if you happen to have a dem. Also: Sen Casey’s office. Just throwing names out there see if one might help.

  56. 56
    kay says:

    @kim walker:

    Yes. Call the board of elections (or PA equivalent) in the county in which you lived.

    Go to county government. They should have a website.

  57. 57
    kim walker says:

    @Valdivia: Thanks for the suggestions! Pardon my ignorance-but what is OFA? I’m just so surprised to have been purged.

  58. 58
    quannlace says:

    Under the new rules, customers applying for or renewing a driver’s license must go to a Department of Driver Services customer service center in person and present an original or certified birth certificate, Social Security card and two documents proving where they live.

    We have to do the same thing here in NJ. After I got my first digital photo license, I thought that was it. I could renew by mail or online. Nope. Renewal time came up; had to slog back to the DMV with all that ridiculous paper. And this was right after Christie had closed and lowered hours of a lot of DMV offices. Thanks, Guv!
    But as of yet, we don’t need to present an ID to vote. Yet.

    Why we don’t have a single, Federal voting law is beyond me!

  59. 59
    askew says:


    Hits head on desk repeatedly. I actually wish a Dem would propose a national id law run by the federal govt that makes it super easy and FREE to get voters into booths. Can you imagine the wails? But—it would be a good way to hoist them by their own petard.

    If the Dems manage to control the WH, the House and the Senate in 2013, this absolutely needs to happen.

    And state Dems need to do a better job of countering these bills by passing laws guaranteeing early voting, easing voter id laws, etc. when we control the state houses. Dems have been way too complacent on this war and we need to step it up.

  60. 60
    Valdivia says:

    @kim walker:

    Obama For America.


    Agreed. This could be done at the local level too. Call it something Orwellian but in reality make it something that guarantees everyone gets an id, for free and in an easy way.

  61. 61
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:


    2500 full-time volunteers dedicated to the task

    Do you know how many unemployed Democrats there are in Pennsylvania who might like to do something useful with their time to strike back? I’ve got one sitting in my living room right now.

    There’s no reason to sit around doing nothing about this. I don’t get it.

  62. 62
    Maude says:

    I waltz into to vote and waltz out in NJ. The DMV stuff is so ridiculous.

  63. 63
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Valdivia: I understand that the canvassers are working on registering voters. Telling people what to do to get an ID isn’t enough. We need drivers and hand-holders, don’t we?

  64. 64


    Why we don’t have a single, Federal voting law is beyond me!

    States’ rights, baby! It’s also why integration was such an awful, awful thing. And why anti-lynching laws were so bad. They’re unconscienable violations of states’ rights. Why, it was up to the states to end Jim Crow, don’t you know, or it should have been, but then the evil federales horned in. And those states were just working sooooo hard on seeing that every citizen, black or white, had all the rights they needed and deserved, and they would’ve gotten to it if not for Lyndon Johnson. Same for anti-lynch laws. Why should the federal government, that instrument of tyranny, get to step in and tell states how to deal with lynchings? The states were doing just peachy on their own, thank you very much. They worked mighty hard to see that the only ones who got lynched were the uppity blacks who deserved it. Sure, maybe a few technically innocent blacks got caught up by mistake, but, come on, eggs and omelettes, right, eggs and omelettes, and besides, no blacks are ever truly innocent, are they? You just know they’re guilty of something, right?

  65. 65
    Valdivia says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    I guess I am perhaps not getting your point. Are you saying that the Obama campaign is doing nothing useful to win the election on the ground in PA right now? My impression is that this is the one thing they focus on like lasers. I am not 100% sure but I would bet that they are planning on dealing with this change in the law the best that their resources allow. Your idea about unemployed dems is excellent, why not call the OFA office in that area to volunteer to do some of the things you suggest or give them these ideas, they always listen and love having people on the ground tell them what they think would work best.

  66. 66
    Mino says:

    We’re an imaginative bunch. Well, we pass for such.

    What condition can Republicans invent to reduce the female vote?

    Make them get a sonogram?

  67. 67
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Valdivia: I’m not saying OFA is doing nothing on the ground. I am saying that I haven’t seen any evidence that they’re “planning on dealing with this change in the law.”

    My point is that if the new Voter ID requirements are going to disenfranchise 750,000 voters, someone in the Democratic Party should be working to find these voters, help them get birth certificates, and shepherd them to the DMV.

    Your suggestion to call the OFA office is good and I guess that will be my next step.

  68. 68
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    If these a-holes really cared about the integrity of voting why not make the system like that instead of these incredible complicated systems (government ones at that, which they are supposed to hate no?). Why not make the social security card everyone goes to get, a picture id that one can use to vote? Isn’t that just easier?

    Because that’s big government / black helicopter stuff, and GOPmericans ain’t going in no federal database.

    Bill Keller had a fairly blah op-ed about it at the start of the week, which sort of missed out the big problem: like election rules, vital records are in the hands of the states, and were done on a county level until relatively recently. There are lots and lots of US citizens — older, more rural, and African-Americans born during Jim Crow — who simply don’t have foundational identity documents. They’ve got by on trust and secondary documentation, and that falls apart when you have GOP legislatures who decide that mistrust of certain classes of voter is now the operative standard.

  69. 69
    mk3872 says:

    Therein lies the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

    When Repubs get power, like they did BIG TIME in 2010, they go all-in.

    They change the rules, set their own pet-peeve laws (like voter ID) and say “SCREW YOU” to everyone else, not worrying about re-election.

    Dems, on the other hand, as in 2008, get all weak-kneed and worry about what the MSM elites are saying and worry about the next election by trying to pass conservative legislation.

    It makes me sick.

  70. 70
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    Under the new rules, customers applying for or renewing a driver’s license must go to a Department of Driver Services customer service center in person and present an original or certified birth certificate, Social Security card and two documents proving where they live.

    And of course, those locations have opening hours that are no good if you’re working during the week and can’t take time off (8am-6pm weekdays, 8am-midday Saturday), and a bunch of them are hard to reach if you don’t have a car. That was Hans van Spakofsky’s bit of evil genius.

  71. 71
    Valdivia says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    I think calling them is important. Sometimes we think ‘why aren’t they doing x and y and while it looks obvious to us they may be so drowned in their own work they may not be able to think of it etc. I have a meeting of my OFA group on the 28th and while it’s a DC one I will ask them to pass it on.

  72. 72
    JoyfulA says:

    Legal cases against the PA voter ID law have been filed, so here’s hoping.

    An oddity is that my county, suburban-exurban-rural, of 200,000, mostly Republicans, shows 12% of registered voters lack driver ID, the third highest percentage in the state. I don’t see why: few Amish/Mennonites, above-average household income, almost no public transportation. There aren’t THAT many nursing homes.

    Note that there are (were when I lived there) in Philly two PennDOT offices for getting a driver’s license. One is in the far northeast, with no public transportation to it. The other is around Fairmont Park, I think; from my almost downtown house, it took me three bus lines with two transfers to get there, about two hours one way. That’s a burden on a young, strong person, let alone everyone else.

  73. 73
    Valdivia says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    yes of course the big federal govt is evil but super restrictive local govt is FREEDOM!

  74. 74
    kay says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    What bugs me is no one in this country will admit that retaining your driver’s license is a challenge when you’re poor.
    Any infraction leads to fines, including being fined for having your insurance cancelled because you haven’t made the payment. The fines stack up, and then there are re-instatement fees.
    States have turned low income drivers into cash cows. Now we’re telling them they can’t vote without a driver’s license?
    Who are we kidding with this?
    Of course it affects low income people disproportionately. Any municipal court judge could have told them that.

  75. 75
    smintheus says:

    One of the most bizarre aspects of this is that you don’t need to prove citizenship to get a PA drivers license. It’s only if you don’t drive that you have to provide all this documentation just to exercise your constitutionally protected right to vote.

  76. 76
    smintheus says:

    @JoyfulA: I live in a rural town in Lehigh Valley. The nearest DMV is at least a 45 min. drive and there is no public transport that I could use if I needed to get one of these “free” IDs.

    This is a huge, huge voter suppression scandal. Our Sec. of State has insisted that only 1% of PA voters lack the necessary ID, and now that PennDot proved the number was over 9% she’s refusing to explain why she lied about it.

    Gov. Corbett is the worst kind of partisan scum.

  77. 77
    kay says:


    I think noise can have an effect. The Florida purging was in the news for weeks. At least they will know that the laws have changed.

    Conservatives rely on the fact that there are 50 states with 50 sets of rules. It’s hard to break out into national news, but the Florida purge DID break out.

    This can too.

  78. 78
    mk3872 says:

    This law was cookie cutter pre-written by ALEC before the votes were even counted in 2010.

  79. 79
    JoyfulA says:

    @smintheus: Even the Harrisburg Patriot-News is writing nasty editorials about the gov and his voter ID law!

  80. 80
    catpal says:

    yeah PA Repubs su_ck. You should see what they are doing to the Poor and Disabled in PA. It is disgusting.

    There are many problems with this crappy Voter ID Law in PA. I am hoping that the PA ACLU is able to fight this regarding the following.

    1) It has been difficult for many older citizens to get a copy of a birth certificate. Especially if you were born at home and not in a hospital.
    2) Philadelphia county has only “5” Penndot Photo ID locations that are only open average 30 hours per week for photos (most close at 4:15 pm, some closed on Mondays) for the about 400,000 potential voter estimate that do not have photo Id.

    3) PA counties had about 20 full and part-ime Penndot locations Closed when Corbett first took office in early 2011. PA Repugs REFUSED to extend hours under this new voter ID law. (I guess Repugs were planning ahead).

    4) WAIT TIME for photo ID has averaged 2 HOURS waiting in line.

  81. 81
    Tokyokie says:

    I don’t see how anybody can fairly read Section 1 of the 14th Amendment and conclude such laws are valid:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    But then, four Supreme Court justices refuse to give that portion of the Constitution a fair reading. (Hey Nino, whaddya think the original intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment meant and what sorta crap were they trying to prevent? Huh? Huh? I didn’t get that, ya wanna speak up?) The test for the constitutional validity of a state restriction of a civil right used to be that such a restriction needed to further a legitimate state interest and had to be narrow enough to accomplish that goal and go no further. And in this case, the state interest — keeping noncitizens from voting — doesn’t seem to exist at all, and the remedy is to keep close to a million qualified voters in Pennsylvania alone from voting.

    I’d like to see Holder announce plans to pursue action against state voting officials who try to enforce these measures, which each provisional ballot cast constituting a separate count under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and/or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Put the bastards in prison for life. It’s where they belong.

  82. 82
    catpal says:

    @JoyfulA: I would like to protest that the Amish were given an exception to the Photo ID, knowing that they mostly vote Republican.

    There should Be Lots of Exceptions, or NO Exceptions.

  83. 83
    smintheus says:

    @Bizono: It was rammed through with very little debate or publicity…just like the middle-of-the-night amendment deregulating our electricity rates. That’s worked out so well too.

  84. 84
    burnspbesq says:

    Time for DOJ to get in the game.

  85. 85
    smintheus says:

    @Tokyokie: Equal protection: Drivers and non-drivers are not treated equally under the PA Voter ID law. To my mind that disqualifies it…if only because certain types of disability (e.g. blindness) bar one from obtaining a driver’s license.

  86. 86
    Not Sure says:

    @Valdivia: In Germany, ID cards are mandatory. Every adult German MUST carry one. If we had something like that, all this “voter fraud” nonsense would simply evaporate, but noooooooooooo! The holy rollers would start screaming about “the number of the Beast” and all that garbage. The libertarians would start screaming about “loss of freedom” and all that bullcrap. “But all it is is a Social Security card with your picture on it,” we’d say. “SOSHALISM!!!!!!” they’d scream back. So it’ll never happen, and we’ll continue having this idiotic argument every election.

  87. 87


    Time for DOJ to get in the game.

    The obsessive focus on Holder makes a hell of a lot more sense to me now than it did last week.

  88. 88
    Vicki says:

    Thanks for posting this Kay. I’m a regular reader but have never commented before. I would like to add this clause to the voter ID requirements in PA:

    “Only valid Passports and original documents will be accepted. If the name on
    your original document differs from your current name, you must provide
    documentation that connects the names, such as an original Marriage Certificate,
    Divorce Decree, or Court Order document.”

    This means added documentation for women without ID because their birth certicate and other documents such as SS cards have different names in many cases.

  89. 89
    Valdivia says:

    @Not Sure:

    yes, it makes my head ache every time I think of it. But I do wish, as I said above, that the Dems would run with it just to box these assholes in.

  90. 90
    JoyfulA says:

    @catpal: I didn’t know the Amish were excepted. Just Amish, or anyone with religious scruples about photographs, such as veiled Muslim women, which to my surprise I have encountered while politicking in this 3/2 Red county? Mostly, the Amish and Old Order Mennonites don’t vote at all, although I hear that in recent years the GOP has been trying to motivate them in Lancaster County with tales of mandatory gay marriage and whatnot.

  91. 91
    catpal says:

    @Tokyokie: also the 24th Amendment.

    “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

    the Poll tax or other tax in PA is now any fee to get a Voter ID – like birth certificate fee, wage-time-loss, transportation costs, etc.

  92. 92
    PeakVT says:

    Amendment XXIV. Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.
    SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

  93. 93
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    Who are we kidding with this?

    It’s insidious politics: the tinfoil & teabag brigade is quite happy to force other people through the bureaucratic wringer as long as they’re not personally affected, because they implicitly believe that those people shouldn’t have the right to vote. The politics of identification are a form of identity politics. As long as voter suppression is popular to the people in charge — it’s a very thin veneer of bullshit about “safeguarding the vote” — it’s going to be really hard to challenge without a very firm federal hand, which in turn creates its own political problems, especially with a Supreme Court that indulges quasi-secessionist states.

    Sensible solutions — something along the lines of Elections Canada’s national registration database that is shared with the provinces — won’t work if there are governors and legislatures who reject them out of hand.

    (Keller’s op-ed isn’t terrible on first read, and is more concerned with immigration status than voter ID, but it’s underpinned by the privilege of never having experienced institutions that have been set up to treat you as a liar and deny you your rights.)

  94. 94
    Ken Pidcock says:

    Come November, I will most definitely be using a passport as voter ID. It is the appropriate document with which to present one’s self to a hostile government.

  95. 95
    karen says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Passports are expensive! My job paid for mine because I had to go to Canada for business but when I went 7 years ago it cost about $100 then. I don’t know what it costs now but I bet it’s not cheap.

  96. 96
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    The controlling SCOTUS opinion here, I think, is the one on the Indiana voter ID law, which was written by Stevens:

    Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons—e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.

    To me, that’s an “I see no ships” approach to the institutional intent of forcing people into provisional ballots and multiple bureaucratic hoops to have their votes counted.

    The Scalia-Thomas-Alito concurrence is a plain fuck-you to the idea of a disparate impact. Roberts and Kennedy are more wishy-washy, but would likely find reasons to uphold laws that gradually ratchet up the burden.

  97. 97
    karen says:


    Until the GOP gains control of all of Congress and Presidency, stacks the Supreme Court with more and the Voting Rights Act is repealed, (it’s the Texas GOP platform) and the Civil Rights Act is repealed.

  98. 98
    karen says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    No offense but you’ve just realized this?

  99. 99
    kay says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    There’s some good news. Asian-American voting rights groups are engaged in PA because there’s a language issue with all these forms.

    This fight needs to be broader. It can’t just be advocates for poor people. MSM were much more sympathetic to college students than they ever were when this was limited to poor people.

  100. 100
    karen says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Is there a way that the Democratic Party in each of these states can get the voter rolls of 2008 and get a phone bank together so these people can be called and notified and if there are people without the proper documents arrangements of some kind can be made?

    I’m lucky to be in Maryland where I won’t have a problem but I’d be willing to call other states to notify people.

    My parents are in NY where again, they’ll be no problem but they’re so angry that they’re volunteering for the Obama campaign. My father will be speaking to Jews who may be swayed by Mittens relationship with his buddy Netanyahu. I’m proud of my folks.

  101. 101
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for keeping us informed, Kay

  102. 102
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @karen: $170, give or take. Daughter’s going to study abroad next winter — that’s where her first week’s take-home went from the summer job.

  103. 103
    rikyrah says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    The AA fraternities are supposed to be on it, but I can’t find anything there either.

    try 1911 UNited

  104. 104
    HRA says:

    Thanks for the info, Kay.

    G was born in PA. His birth certificate is a plastic card. There is no raised seal on it. There has to be many others in PA with the same birth certificate. Believe me, trying to get a birth certificate re-issued is a very major migraine.

  105. 105
    Mino says:

    @karen: I’m expecting Texas to go back to all English voter forms. They’re not fooling anybody anyway.

  106. 106
    Caz says:

    How hard do you think it is to go get a driver’s license or a photo ID?? You really think people are so dumb they can’t figure out how to get a photo ID?

    Nothing is complex or unfair about this process no matter how confusing you try to make it seem.

    Get a driver’s license or state photo ID and you’re good. Be lazy and don’t get one and you’re probably someone so disinterested in the direction of our country you probably don’t care about voting anyway.

    You know, when you go to D.C. to visit any number of politicians, appointees, and employees, you are required to show photo ID at the door in order to enter their buildings. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Can’t you find something more important (or just, important at all) to blog about, lol?

  107. 107
    catpal says:

    @JoyfulA: via thinkprogress

    “object to having their picture taken for religious reasons, like the Amish and Mennonite communities. They can use a nonphoto ID to vote, but only after completing an interrogation about their faith,”

    I have some family in Lancaster county who have Amish neighbors who vote, and usually vote Republican for religious conservative reasons.

  108. 108
    gluon1 says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: It should be noted that the Democrats actually are trying on this. In the House, they created a website breaking down the steps you need to take to register in each state (see here; it doesn’t seem to work in Chrome).

    @Valdivia: They also introduced a massive bill that would, among many other things, ban these types of voter photo-ID laws and criminalize the deceptive practices that disfranchise millions.

    Finally, there’s also a non-partisan group that started helping overseas Americans register to vote. Last year, they realized that domestic Americans needed as much help, thanks to these laws, so they created a domestic site helping people register and vote.

    I’m not saying enough is being done, but it’s not true that nobody’s trying, including the nobodies we sent to Congress.

  109. 109
    kay says:


    Get it through your head. It’s not hard.

    Voting is a RIGHT. It’s in the constitution you frauds are always bleating about. That’s why it’s DIFFERENT then the 50,000 other comparisons you’re always making.

    NOT like boarding an airplane, or cashing a check, or entering a building. NOT like that. DIFFERENT than that.

    I love that you clowns compare the fucking franchise to using an ATM. Love that you’re so cavalier and stupid to compare it to a commercial transaction. It’s fitting, somehow.

  110. 110
    gluon1 says:

    @kay: Also, there are ways that voting is a lot more difficult than ATMs and online banking, the chief one being that, in those commercial transactions, both sides are supposed to know what’s going on, whereas, in voting, only the voter is supposed to know what her ballot says. That makes it a lot harder to control.

    Thanks, again, Kay, for all of your good work, though I looked at that comment and wondered if replying would be feeding a troll.

  111. 111
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    “Caz” may well be yesterday’s troll Spongebob Nopants in a new wig, but to deal swiftly with it: the right to vote is specifically constitutionally protected in more than one place. The dealings of banks, liquor stores, federal buildings, etc. are not.

    If we had the inclination, we could very easily submit the troll’s identity documents to a standard of scrutiny sufficient to prove that it doesn’t actually exist. Want to play that game?

  112. 112
    kay says:


    Check back tommorrow. Tommorow we talk about why the GOP Governor of PA and his election official told the people of PA that this law would affect 1% of people, when they had state data that indicated the true number was 10X that, and 20X that in urban areas.
    18% in Philadelphia. Why wasn’t Corbett straight with voters?

  113. 113


    God damn, you suck ass hard. Everybody’s walked you through this more than once, but you already know that it’s meant to keep people from the voting booth, you just don’t care. Or,even worse, you’re happy about it.

    I’ll say it again, you suck ass.

  114. 114
    JoyfulA says:

    @catpal: Thanks! I’m vaguely recalling this now.

    Of the two veiled Muslim women I met while I politicked, one was not registered as a Democrat (her husband, who wasn’t home, was so registered); her English was minimal, and she may not be a citizen. The other woman lives on the same block as my state committeewoman, who should be on the case, but I’ll mention it the next time I see her.

  115. 115
    catpal says:

    @kay: We call him Corrupt Corbett for many criminal reasons – beginning when he was PA AG – why didn’t he indict State Sen Orie, recently convicted of Illegal campaigning with state resources — but he indicted many Dems for the same crime?

    Was it only because Orie is Republican – or because Orie’s brother worked for Corbett in the PA AG office?

    the only news media that asked that question was one sentence in the post-gazette. PA news media is a big fail about Repub Harrisburg corruption.

    total history of Corrupt Corbett found here at casablancapa

  116. 116
    catpal says:

    Kay, Thanks so much for writing about this stuff and all of your activities. We need more like you to be so involved here in PA.

  117. 117
    Michele C says:

    @Valdivia: they’d scream “State’s rights” faster than you can imagine, but that’s a long lesson in history and politics in the U.S.

  118. 118
    Michele C says:

    @Valdivia: they’d scream “State’s rights” faster than you can imagine, but that’s a long lesson in history and politics in the U.S.

  119. 119
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @HRA: As of 10 years ago or so, getting a PA birth certificate wasn’t hard: Just a letter and a $6.00 check to Vital Records. But you have to get started now, because it takes time.

  120. 120
    Chris T. says:

    Utah does this same thing (“birth certificate, social security card, AND two bank-statements/utility-bills/etc”) for driver’s license renewals.

    My dad (who invariably votes Republican) couldn’t get his license renewed without several stabs at it.

  121. 121
    tesslibrarian says:

    @Raven: A co-worker of mine had to renew this week. Because she’s been married to the same man for nearly 30 years, she needed to bring her certified marriage certificate to explain why the name on her birth certificate and on her current ID and paystub were different.

    She arrived at DDS at noon, and was told the wait was 3 hours; they were right about that, but in no small part because so many people had to leave before they were able to renew. When she got to the front of the line, the clerk at the counter told her she was only the 4th person **all day** to have all the documentation she needed to get the new ID.

    This is a hot, miserable, slow time of year, and as librarians, we work weekends and often have days off during the week instead. When this sort of thing starts happening to the average white collar office worker who has to use his precious vacation time to renew the driver’s license he’s had for 20 years, possibly going back a few times until he gets everything right, I don’t know if they’ll keep this law in effect. Most people didn’t know it was coming, and they are Not Happy.

  122. 122
    Caz says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: You didn’t seem too concerned about the president having American citizens murdered without any due process or involvement from any other branch of govt – just the president’s sole discretion as to who which citizens he deems deserving to die.

    Where was the crying about the right to life and due process being constitutionally protected? You’re all up in arms that voting is constitutionally protected such that requiring a photo ID is a violation of that right. But the president having citizens murdered on his whim is not that important.

    That’s some strange view of constitutional rights you have!

    And your response to this is usually either silence, insults, or some lame, off-point rationalization.

    It’s a freaking photo ID, anyone can get one, it’s easy. It prevents fraud and ensures that the person voting is who they say they are. It’s so universal that photo ID’s are required for virtually everything these days. Not to mention that the Supreme Court already ruled twice that requiring a photo ID at voting booths does not violated the Constitution. You know, the same Supreme Court that said the personal mandate was constitutional as a tax and that was good enough for you all.

    But not requiring a photo ID, even though the Supreme Court already ruled it was acceptable.

    You have no merit to this argument, no basis at all for complaining, and no consistency whatsoever when it comes to standing up for constitutional rights. Otherwise you’d be appalled that the president is having citizens killed without any checks or due process at all. Unbelievable how brainwashed you idiots are. You’ll fall in line until they come to your door and then it will be too late to complain because you sat by and let everyone else’s rights be violated, all for the good of the party. Sieg Heil, retards!

  123. 123
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    It’s a freaking photo ID, anyone can get one, it’s easy.

    Sadly, no!

    Better trolls, please. Or at least ones who aren’t as obvious about banging their shoes on the table when they’ve got nothing. (The relevant SCOTUS rulings come with several qualifications that Troll unsurprisingly chooses to ignore.)

    But if you want to be slapped around some more: scan and upload a copy of the documents that would earn you a photo ID, and we’ll demonstrate in fifteen seconds that you’re an identity fraudster or a figment of Orly Taitz’s imagination.

  124. 124

    @pseudonymous in nc: Are you asking Caz to fax us his credenza?

  125. 125
    Peggy says:

    Late to the party, but—
    Are you saying that ordinary, routine, drivers license renewal requires a personal appearance and a birth certificate? Not just a check?
    Wait for the screams. Howls

  126. 126
    sab says:

    I was born in NC and left when I was a toddler. I applied for a copy of my birth certificate a couple of years ago in order to get a passport, and it took SIX MONTHS for their fine bureaucracy to process my request. If I lived in PA or Florida, that would mean I wouldn’t have had time to get myself back on the voter rolls even if I was following the issue.

  127. 127
    sab says:

    I was born in NC and left when I was a toddler. I applied for a copy of my birth certificate a couple of years ago in order to get a passport, and it took SIX MONTHS for their fine bureaucracy to process my request. If I lived in PA or Florida, that would mean I wouldn’t have had time to get myself back on the voter rolls even if I was following the issue closely.

  128. 128

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