State Rep. Youngblood takes issue with new voter ID card available through PennDOT

While debate and litigation continues across Pennsylvania over the voter-ID issue, state Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-198th) voiced concern at a Monday press conference about the new identification card being offered by the Pennsylvania Department of State through PennDOT.

Speaking to a crowd at the Center in the Park in Germantown, Youngblood discussed language included on the affidavit that Voter ID applicants must sign. Specifically, she noted it states that the bearer is liable for imprisonment and a fine for any use other than identification for voting purposes.

The Voter ID card is being offered by the state for free, in contrast to the $13.50 it costs for a non-driving State ID or $29.50 for a driver’s license when used for non-voting purposes.  The cost of a non-driving State ID can also be waived if the identification card will be used for voting purposes and the appropriate forms are completed.  

The card, which may be obtained without a birth certificate or a Social Security card, is expected to be available later in this month.

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Enforcement concerns

John Jordan, director of civic engagement for the NAACP of Pennsylvania, explained that the potential penalties for misuse — imprisonment up to two years and a $1,000 fine — are steep.

While he reported that PennDOT officials indicated to him that there would be no enforcement on their end in regard to the language, he said it remained unclear whether the affidavit — and the related enforcement apparatus — would originate from PennDOT or the Department of State.

In earlier statements to NewsWorks, Youngblood said that her constituents have encountered obstacles in obtaining voter ID.

Now, she said she’s receiving word from local election workers that they’re considering not returning to their posts in November because, under the Voter ID Law, they too can be fined and/or imprisoned if they do not ask for ID.

“I have had election board workers call me and say, ‘I quit; I’m not willing to take a risk like that,'” she said, noting that the hesitance could jeopardize the available pool of experienced poll workers who typically work 14-hour days for approximately $100.

Outreach drive continues

To spur registration efforts, Youngblood’s office will host three voter ID and registration events in coming weeks across her sprawling district, which includes sections of the Northwest, North Philadelphia and Olney.

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen said that she will also host outreach initiatives and events. However, due to financial constraints, her events will be mostly limited to volunteer efforts and partner organizations.

This compliments efforts being made by leaders of city government.

Last week, City Council President Darrell Clarke told reporters that some funding for local voter ID outreach efforts will come from the campaign funds of City Council members, although he did not provide a specific amount.

NW Philly councilmembers chime in

Observing that the voter ID laws are a “strike at Philadelphia,” Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass said that she’s prepared to fight the new law.

“I’m going to use all the resources available, whether it’s campaign money or out of pocket,” said Bass. “It’s too important to let money stand in the way.”

For his part, Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. said that his office will host a block party where the “price of admission” will be new registrations for both voting and the ID necessary to vote. In addition, his office will coordinate transportation to and from PennDOT offices to secure the new ID cards for constituents.

“If we don’t ramp up our preventative measures now,” said Councilwoman-At-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown, “we stand to be surprised on Election Day.”

This is a corrected version of the story. The original version provided incorrect information about the cost of photo ID for voting purposes.

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