New voter IDs roll out in Philadelphia

For the first time, Pennsylvanians can apply for a new type of photo ID that’s just for voting.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State on Tuesday began distributing IDs at PennDOT offices for voters who don’t have a birth certificate and so can’t get other official forms of identification.

Voters waited in line for more than an hour at a Philadelphia bureau to make sure they can cast a ballot.

“When I was born, they weren’t giving out birth certificates. I had a midwife,” explained Julia Elizabeth Jones, who was born in South Carolina in 1913.

On Tuesday, she waited in a plastic chair for her number to be called at a PennDOT office blocks from the Liberty Bell.

“Because it’s my right to vote,” she said. “And if I don’t vote, one might get an in, so that’s why I’m very interested to get the vote.”

She held up one finger, signifying the impact of her single vote, which she has cast for eight decades. In fact, many in the office held onto application forms for the new card.

LaRell Purdie, an observer from the Voter ID Coalition, says she was surprised but pleased to see that PennDOT employees were informing people about the new ID.

“They have one line for voter ID purposes,” she said, describing the setup, “and one line for every other thing that you would come to the DMV for.”

She said she was surprised because PennDOT has drawn criticism for how it implemented other voter ID changes, including improperly charging people for IDs they need to vote.

The Voter ID Coalition will be monitoring the latest rollout at PennDOT offices around Philadelphia.

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