By Steven M. Kamp

I won’t waste your time with a screed about the politics behind the onerous voter ID laws in effect this year in Pennsylvania and some other states. Instead, don’t get mad, get even by getting the ID these laws require. This diary is about the Pennsylvania voter ID law, but it may be useful in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

If you are living in Pennsylvania, first check to make sure you are registered. The deadline is October 9. You will also need photo ID to vote absentee; the “civilian (vs. military and other overseas) absentee” deadline is October 30 for the application, and November 2 for the receipt of the voted ballot.

Pennsylvania Driver’s License or Photo ID

After checking and (if needed) updating your registration, check and see if you have EITHER of the following: a Pennsylvania driver’s license, or a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania non-drivers license photo ID. If you do, check to make sure the expiration date is no later than 12 months after Election Day: November 6, 2012, or no later than November 6, 2013. If you have either, you’re fine – just bring this photo ID to the polls on Election Day, or include a copy when you mail your application for an absentee ballot.

Alternative Forms of Photo ID

If you do not have either, you need to see if you have one of the alternative forms of photo ID that has an expiration date valid after November 6, 2012, or immediately head to the nearest Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Driver’s License Center to get either a Driver’s License or a voting photo ID.  

You should be able to avoid this trip IF you have a photo ID with an expiration date stated on the photo ID as “indefinite”, or a photo ID with an expiration date after November 6, 2012, from any one the following:

•    A valid United States passport

•    A Commonwealth state, county or local agency employee photo ID

•    United States Military, retired military, or dependent military photo ID

•    United States Government photo ID

•    Photo ID from an accredited Pennsylvania institution of higher learning, including                  two year colleges

•    Photo ID issued by a Pennsylvania personal care facility, including assisted living,                  nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

What Happens if You Do Not Have Any Photo ID?

If you do not have any of these, you need to declare under oath that you do not have any of the above forms of identification, and you must present to the PennDOT Driver’s License Center a birth certificate with a raised seal, a Social Security card, and two forms of proof of residence (utility bill, deed, lease, or tax bill).  

Native Pennsylvanians

If you can declare under oath that you are a native Pennsylvanian, you do not need a birth certificate with a raised seal. But you need to fill out forms DL-54A and HD01564F, which the Pennsylvania DOT will forward to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to verify that you were born in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania DOT website says that “PennDOT will then notify [the voter] 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.”

Born Outside Pennsylvania – Need Birth Certificate With Raised Seal  

If you were not born in Pennsylvania, you need to contact the county clerk or other official in the jurisdiction where you were born, to obtain a raised-seal copy of your birth certificate. Once you receive this, take it to the nearest PennDOT Driver’s License Center along with a Social Security Card and two proof-of-residence documents (utility bill, tax bill, lease, deed), and ask for a Pennsylvania voting photo ID.

Provisional Ballot, But Must Present Photo ID by November 12

If you do not have identification by Election Day, you can vote a provisional ballot, but the ballot is counted only if you provide acceptable photo ID to the county elections office within six calendar days after November 6 (note that November 12 is the Monday after Veterans Day).

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Website

More information can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website, http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/...

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