If PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight is telling the truth that it’s official PennDOT policy to “[work] closely with all kinds of groups” then she needs to get the message to all their branch offices.
As voter advocate Janet Kroll told me: “When you have 30 to 50 elderly people sitting in chairs at PennDOT at 8th &Arch, among the hundreds of applicants, the mind boggles! They may get faint, may need to go to the bathroom or have a drink of water, or a snack, or an aspirin. Volunteers will be needed to get them through this ordeal even before they get to the counter!”
Hydie Gold, former head of the local League of Women Voters, was at Monday’s meeting, to offer guidance to the advocates. So was Karen Buck, head of Philly’s Senior Law Center. The meeting was supposed to have been held at the center, but so many volunteers registered to attend that it was moved to William Penn House, on Chestnut Street.
You know who wasn’t there to answer questions or lend frontline insight about helping the elderly get their ID act together?
Anyone from PennDOT.
Gold tells me that, last Friday, PennDot’s Scott Shenk, chief of driver-licensing, declined Gold’s request to have a PennDOT rep meet with the voter advocates.
“He said it would be seen as a ‘partnership,’ so PennDOT could be liable if anything happened” to the advocates at the PennDOT centers, claims Gold.
“He also said that, if they let volunteers with the League of Women Voters” roam the centers, looking for old heads to help, PennDOT would “have to let in every group that wanted to come in. They didn’t want to set a precedent.”
Shenk added that the voter advocates would have to stay outside the centers, on the sidewalk, or risk being “removed.”