Pa. aids dozens unable to supply birth certificate |

Pa. aids dozens unable to supply birth certificate

PennDOT and the Department of State teamed up to issue voter identification cards at PennDOT Driver’s License Centers throughout the state starting Monday. As of the close of business Tuesday, 65 voter identification cards had been issued.

The first two days of distributing what state officials call a “safety net” for voter identification provided 65 free ID cards for Pennsylvanians who can’t access their birth certificates.

“We found there was a small group born in other states or countries who couldn’t get their birth certificates,” said Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Department of State.

The ID cards became available on Monday at PennDOT driver’s license centers for people who don’t have other forms of photo identification that will be required for the first time in November at polling places.

Voter ID cards can be used only for voting and are free when residents sign an oath declaring that they have no other documentation proving their identities, said Jan McKnight, a PennDOT spokesperson.

Critics say getting the card isn’t as easy as the state claims.

“You still need documents. More likely than not, you’re going to need at least two trips to the DMV, and by definition these are people who don’t drive,” said Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Other IDs that will be accepted at polls include driver’s licenses, state school IDs and passports.

The ACLU and other groups sued the state to block the new law. A Commonwealth Court judge ruled for the state and the plaintiffs appealed to the state Supreme Court.

In court papers filed Thursday, David Gersch, an ACLU attorney, called the law “unconscionable.” Arguments in the case are scheduled for Sept. 13.

Adam Wagner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7956 or [email protected].

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