Happy National Voter Registration Day

Today, September 25, is National Voter Registration Day. See more here. There is a voter registration drive all day today, 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., at Sykes Union, West Chester University, and others around the county and state.

We all know how important voter registration is. No registration, no vote, no influence.

Anyone who wants to vote this fall needs to register (form here) before the October 9 deadline–and be sure their registration name is the same as the name on their drivers license or other big-government-approved ID.

It is really complex, as the state has continually backtracked in an effort to pass muster with the PA Supreme Court (the verdict may not be in till just before the voter registration deadline, or even afterwards).

Anyone already registered needs to compare registration and ID names and if there is any discrepancy, see the state info at the Chesco Voter Services site.

The short version is:

1) Types of ID (street address doesn’t seem to matter), from the state download:

All IDs must contain a NAME, a PHOTO, and an EXPIRATION DATE that is CURRENT, unless noted otherwise. Acceptable IDs include:

Photo IDs issued by the U.S. Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT photo ID card (valid for voting 12 months past expiration date)

U.S. passport

U.S. military ID (active duty and retired military IDs may designate an expiration date that is indefinite). Military dependents’ IDs must contain a current expiration date.

Employee photo identification issued by Federal, Pennsylvania, or a Pennsylvania County, or Municipal government

Photo identification issued by an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning

Photo identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility

2) Name on the ID

The new law says that the name on the ID must “substantially conform” to the name of registration. What does that mean? Good luck! It’s up to the Judge of Elections in each precinct.

State instructions now inform voting officials that they can exercise latitude with regard to nicknames (Joe for Joseph) and initials (J. for Joseph, and similarly for middle names). But if the initial is different from the full name, there is a problem.

For example, Joseph Henry Jones should be able to pass inspection as Joe H. Jones or J. Henry Jones or even Joe Jones, but not as Joe Q. Jones or Q. Henry Jones). A discrepancy in Jr. or III could also be a problem.

Last names are the most vital, and this will disproportionally affect women. If Sue Smith, registered to vote as Susan Smith, married Joe Jones and now the ID she would use to vote says Susan Jones or Susan Smith-Jones, she should fill out a new registration form before October 9 to change her registration name to the one on her ID.

And similarly if Sue, registered to vote as Susan Jones, gets divorced from Joe and changes the name on her ID back to Sue Smith, then she needs to change her voter registration name back to Susan Smith also.

With all this confusion, wouldn’t you think the person overall in charge of administering the law, Secretary of the Commonwealth, former Chesco commissioner Carol Aichele, would be doing everything possible to clarify the law and help people register to vote?

The 8/3/12 Philadelphia Inquirer editorial “AND ON THE 6TH DAY… it was clear the basis for the voter-ID law is bogus” started:

There were plenty of jaw-droppers during the six-day hearing on Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law in Commonwealth Court that ended yesterday — for example, Secretary of State Carol Aichele admitting on the witness stand that she doesn’t know what’s in the law that she is administering….”

And now that she has had time to read the law?

In “How the GOP Shut Down Voter Registration,” 9/24/12, Chesco resident DocJess reports how Secretary Aichele seems to have been instrumental in getting a long-standing local voter ID registration site shut down.

Happy National Voter Registration Day, everyone!

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About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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