This guest blog comes from Steve Seplow, a freelance writer and former Inquirer editor, via the Committee of Seventy. The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a submission.
By Steve Seplow
With all the talk of needing a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote, teachers, administrators and other School District employees should be aware of one complicating fact about the law: Although photo IDs issued by every level of government from municipal to federal will get you into the voting booth, School District photo IDs do not count.
It is still possible that the law requiring ID will be voided by the courts. In the meantime, in case it is not voided, it is important to make sure that 18-year-olds voting for the first time or any other eligible voters both register and have the necessary ID documents.
Acceptable IDs include a Pennsylvania driver’s license with an expiration date no earlier than a year before the Nov. 6 election, a non-expired passport, an active duty or retired U.S. military ID, and PA National Guard ID. For a full list of other acceptable IDs, call the Committee of Seventy hotline number: 1-866-687-8683 (1-866 OUR-VOTE).
And here’s something else for both District employees and 18-year-olds living at home and voting for the first time to keep in mind: If you don’t now have an acceptable ID, the easiest one to get is issued by the Department of State and is good for voting only. To get that, go to a PennDOT licensing center and ask for a DOS ID. The form can also be printed out by going to the VotesPA website and clicking on "resource center." You must provide your name, address, Social Security number (card not required), and previous name and address if they have changed in the last year.
You will also need two proofs of residency, including pay statements, tax forms, or a current utility bill.
Absent those, you need one person -- a parent or anyone else who knows you -- to sign a “proof of residence verification,” available at the PennDOT licensing centers, affirming he or she knows that you reside at the address provided. Lying about that is illegal. To find the closest licensing center, call 1-800-932-4600 from in-state, or 1-717-412-5300 from out-of state.
Getting a non-driver’s PennDOT ID, legal for check-cashing, airports and much else besides voting, could be a more time-consuming and complex procedure. For more information about that, go to VotesPA or the Committee of Seventy website.
One more reminder: Photo ID or not, you can’t vote unless you’re registered. The deadline is Oct. 9. For information on how and where to register, go to the VotesPA registration page.
For any other information, call the Committee of Seventy hotline number listed above.