Though not happy about the new state law that requires voters to bring IDs to the polls, state Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-200) is trying to be proactive.
The chair for the Philadelphia Delegation in the state House of Representatives hosted a community meeting last week to get the FAQs answered and educate city and suburban leaders so they can spread info on the law.
"After the law was passed, while we're not pleased at all with it... we're dealing with it and need to know how to get prepared," Parker said.
Held at Laborers' Local #332 Union Hall at 13th and Wallace Streets, the August 1 midday meeting brought together other state representatives, media members, nonprofit association employees and city government staff to learn directly from the Department of State, the agency tasked to spread information the hall that impacts the 2012 election.
How the Law Works
The meeting's main objective was to outline how information will be shared—Parker was particularly insistent that the media plan is important. In addition, state officials provided voter guides in several different languages.
In essence, the law requires all voters to present either a valid photo government ID, or other state-sanctioned forms of identification—like IDs issued by public or private colleges, long-term nursing homes, assisted living centers, or personal care homes. Additionally the state will accept PennDOT IDs without photos for those with religious objections to being photographed; a drivers' license less than a year passed expiration; or military/veteran IDs without expiration dates.
The state will offer free IDs from PennDOT to those without a drivers' license.
Click here to visit the state's website, VotesPA.com, or here to .
How Word Will Spread
Representing the Department of State, Megan Sweeney outlined the ways Pennsylvania will spread word of the law. Using $5 million in federal money from the Help America Vote Act, the commonwealth plans to educate the 5.8 million registered voters through a variety of ways.
"Our two main objectives are to get info out there about the law, (in that) you have to bring an ID. And also to help get people those IDs," she said.
Through a media campaign, mailings and utilization of commonwealth services, Sweeney said, the Department of State will share the message. The state plans to run radio, TV and newspaper ads throughout the fall leading up to the election.
Sweeney summarized the many channels her office will utilize to get the word out. In essence, it's any means necessary. Some awareness plans include:
- Mailing postcards to all registered voters;
- Advertising on transit systems;
- Distributing info to all licensed PA care facilities;
- Increasing Department of State staff to field phone calls/answer emails;
- Reaching out to every college newspaper;
- Sending mass emails to commonwealth employees, public school superintendents and university presidents;
- Posting information on the crawl below all lottery television broadcasts;
- Using the voter website, plus Facebook and Twitter accounts; and
- Providing graphics for anyone who wants to directly link their website to VotesPA.com.
In addition, people can call 1-877-Votes-PA or read info here for detailed instructions on how to obtain an ID.