Carlisle Borough Councilman Tim Scott, who has been a strong advocate against the new Voter ID Bill, has sent Keystone Politics the following message:
For those trying to navigate the murky waters of the new Voter ID act, please be aware that when a constituent goes to PennDOT for his or her “free” ID, the voter must tell the person behind the window “ I want an ID so that I can vote“. The law only authorizes free ID for someone who doesn’t have one of the other forms of acceptable ID in the act and needs the “free” ID for voting purposes – otherwise PennDOT employees will charge the constituent the $13.50 for the card.
The constituent will be required to sign a statement that he or she needs the ID for voting purposes.
The PennDOT Voter Affirmation can be downloaded by clicking the hyper-linked text.
It is also worth noting that the constituent must already be a registered voter when he or she applies for the ID. So, a would-be voter must fill out their voter registration form, send it in to the County Board of Elections, wait for their certificate of registration issued by the County Board of Elections, go to PennDOT, apply for an ID, and if they do not mention that it is for voting purposes then they will be charged $13.50.
At first glance, this may seem absurd, but it is my view that perhaps this is a sneaky attempt by Republican legislators to recoup the $11 million dollar price tag for new IDs.
Now that we’ve seen that a voter could be charged $13.50, let’s look at how an easy mistake could lead to jail time and a $1,000 fine.
In the form itself, the voter must agree to the following statement:
I affirm that I do not have any of the forms of identification listed above and require proof of identification for voting purposes, and I acknowledge that that this affirmation is made subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (unsworn falsification to authorities), which may include punishment of a fine of at least $1,000, a term of imprisonment of not more than two years, or both.
So, let’s say that a voter happens to have an identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility that includes his or her name, a photograph, and an expiration date that is not expired. It seems very possible that such a voter would not think that their care facility ID would serve as acceptable ID at their polling place. If such a voter applied for a provisional ID at PennDOT, they could spend two years in jail and get fined $1,000 dollars based on the agreement they would have signed.
The Commonwealth is simply not doing enough to get this information out, and it seems that it can be construed as preying on seniors who are in a care facility and didn’t know that their ID will work. I’d like to see the first test case of this in which the Commonwealth sends an octogenarian to prison for two years for being somewhat confused about the Voter ID law.