Officials disagree on number of Pa. voters without ID

    The Pennsylvania Department of State is touting that just 1 percent of the commonwealth’s eligible voters do not have the government-issued photo identification they would need, if there were a law requiring all voters to show such ID at the polls.

    But that statistic may not be above reproach.

    The Department of State came to its conclusion by using data from PennDOT, which issues driver’s licenses and non-driver photo identification.

    PennDOT provided the number of IDs it has for all Pennsylvanians who are 18 or older.

    Checked against a national survey of eligible voters, it would appear that only 1 percent of eligible voters in Pennsylvania DON’T have I-D. But Jan McKnight of PennDOT said the department’s number does not pertain ONLY to eligible voters.

    “So is it possible that the number of people with IDs from PennDOT is not restricted to the number of people who are eligible to vote?” McKnight said. “The answer is yes.”

    So, the number of eligible voters in the commonwealth without the identification they would need under a state proposal to require voter ID at the polls could be more than 1 percent.

    A Department of State spokesman concedes as much, but says the agency believes PennDOT’s numbers are generally reliable.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania says it’s important to know the actual number because it could mean thousands who are poor, elderly, and disabled would need to get proper identification if it were a ballot box requirement.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.