The new voter ID law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in March to combat voter fraud could leave nearly 2,000 voters in Warren County unable to vote in November's general election.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, 1,830 voters in Warren County lack the required Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo identification.
A comparison of the Department of State's voter registration and PennDOT ID database shows 13,899 Republican voters, 11,117 Democrat voters and 1,401 voters with no affiliation are registered to vote in Warren County as of last week.
Of the 28,888 total registered,1,830 voters, or 6.3 percent, do not have a PennDOT ID number and may be unable to cast a ballot in November.
Across the state, 91 percent of the 8,232,928 registered voters have a registered PennDOT number. Of the 758,939 voters who could not be matched between the Department of State and PennDOT databases, "22 percent, or 167,566, are inactive voters, most of whom have not voted since 2007."
A "inactive" voter status is applied if the person has not voted in five years, and a notice is sent asking if the voter is still at the listed address. If a response is not received, the voter is placed on "inactive" status. Federal and state laws requires keeping the "inactive" voter on the registration list until he or she has not voted in two consecutive general elections for federal office after the date of the notice.
"This thorough comparison of databases confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November," Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a press release. "This comparison takes into account only voters with PennDOT IDs, and does not include voters who may have any of the other various acceptable forms of ID."
According to the Department of State, all voters identified as not having a PennDOT ID number will receive a letter this summer to remind them of the new law, what IDs are accepted, and how to get a free ID if they need one.
The comparison by the Department of State and PennDOT did not include other forms of acceptable identification such as identification from accredited Pennsylvania colleges or universities, Pennsylvania care facilities, military identification, valid U.S. passports, or other photo ID issued by the federal or state governments, or employee identification issued by federal, state, county or municipal governments.
Voters in November who don't bring ID to the polls can vote on a provisional paper ballot and will have to return a copy of their identification with an affirmation to the courthouse within six days for their ballots to count.
According to the Associated Press, every Democratic lawmaker voted against against the bill, and many have scrutinized House Republican leader Mike Turzai's recent claim that the law allows Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania in November's presidential election.
"We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we've talked about for years," Turzai said in June, according to Politics PA. "Pro-Second Ammendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done. First pro-life legislation - abortion facility regulations - in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
The Department of State said the goal of the law is to stop voter fraud.
"We are committed to helping any eligible voter who does not have an acceptable ID get one to be able to vote in November," Aichele said. "We are continuing our outreach to get the word to voters about this law. The goal of this law is to allow every legal voter to cast a ballot, but detect and deter anyone attempting to vote illegally."
How to obtain an acceptable ID
As long as you don't have one of the acceptable forms of ID, PennDOT will provide the $13.50 ID card for free if you provide the required documentation.
In order to receive the free voter ID card, residents will have to visit a PennDOT Driver License Center with a completed application for an Initial Photo Identification Card; form DL-54A, a Social Security card and either a certificate of U.S. citizenship, certification of naturalization, a valid U.S. passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal.
Applicants will also have to provide two proofs of "residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, or tax records," according to PennDOT.
Students who are at least 18 years old may provide accepted proofs of residency in the form of room assignment paperwork, which is considered a lease, and one bill with their dorm room address on it, including bank statements, paystubs and credit card bills.
"Other individuals who may not have any bills, leases or mortgage documents in their name may bring the person with whom they are living along with their Driver's License or Photo ID to a driver license center as one proof of residence," according to PennDOT.
At PennDOT, voters will have to sign an affirmation or oath that they don't possess proof of identification that is punishable by a $1,000 fine and or two years of imprisonment.
For more information, call Department of State's voter ID hotline at 1-877-VotesPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit www.votespa.com.