The Lead

GOP lawmakers want to change Pa.’s voter ID requirements. Here’s how

By: - June 11, 2021 1:21 pm

(Capital-Star file)

If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, the only time you have to show identification at the polls is if it’s your first time casting a ballot at that location. Two state senators want to change that.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to veto legislation that would require voters to show ID every time they vote. So Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Lycoming, want to take Wolf out of the process by proposing a constitutional amendment approach instead. 

That means legislation would go through the GOP-controlled Legislature and be put to a public vote. Language for amendments must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions, so an amendment could reach voters for consideration in May 2023 at the earliest. Pennsylvania governors can’t veto proposed amendments. 

“Time and time again, I hear from constituents who want to know why they need identification to buy cold medicine but not to choose their next senator, township supervisor, judge, or president,” Ward said in a statement.

The amendment, Ward said, “removes politics from the decision-making and allows Pennsylvanians to take the lead in how they want to further secure our election process.” 

Their announcement follows a months-long campaign by Republican lawmakers who urged voters to restrict Wolf’s emergency powers in the May 18 election by approving a constitutional amendment.

It also comes just one day after House Republicans released an election code rewrite that proposed stricter ID requirements, signature verification for mail-in ballots, pushed back deadlines to register to vote, and would allow in-person early voting after the 2024 election.

Under Ward and Wheeler’s proposal, the following forms of identification would be accepted:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID
  • ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
  • ID issued by the U.S. government
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

If a voter is without a photo ID, they could use:

  • Confirmation issued by the county voter registration office
  • Non-photo ID issued by the commonwealth
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. government (a social security card)
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Government check

These are also the same forms of ID currently approved by the Department of State.

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