By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge is hearing new evidence today on the state’s recently enacted voter ID law, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told the lower court reconsider its refusal to block the law (see related stories).
The sole focus of the hearing is on whether Pennsylvania Department of State voter IDs, issued through Penndot licensing centers, are easy enough to get.
The voting-only ID was at first available only to voters who did not have the documentation necessary for a Penndot “secure” ID, which requires a birth certificate and a Social Security card.
But Penndot deputy secretary Kurt Meyers testified today that implementing the voter ID law has been an “evolutionary process,” which has required multiple changes to accommodate the concerns of voters, voting rights groups, and others.
In August, the state launched the voting-only ID for eligible voters who didn’t have the approved paperwork to get a Penndot ID.
And Meyers says the Department of State, following a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision ordering a review of card availability, is implementing yet another change: as of this morning, voters can get the voting-only ID without first trying to get a Penndot ID and without showing two proofs of residence or even identifying their gender.
NAACP national president and CEO Ben Jealous says the many changes in the process proves that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law needs more time.
“They are going to need longer than voting day,” he said today. “They’re going to need years to actually do this and do it right. And what we know is that the General Assembly didn’t give them enough time to get it right. It took two years in Georgia and it’s going to take at least that long here.”
The hearing is expected to continue into Thursday, and the judge says he will rule as soon as possible. Election Day is November 6th.