Sticking to Voter Rights
A valid photo ID is a necessity for all voters in Pennsylvania this November–if a lower court can verify that getting the necessary identification is not unreasonably difficult. The court’s latest action comes as a result of a challenge to the voter identification law, passed in March.
The ID requirements may present problems for some MU students. The law states that a college photo ID is valid as long as it includes the student’s birthday and an expiration date, but some students say they were unaware that their IDs have stickers containing the information and, therefore, provide the identification required for voting.
An up-to-date semester sticker on a Misericordia student ID makes it a valid form of PA voter identification. Robert Zavada, Associate Director of Campus Safety, said the state’s press officer sent an email that confirms that MU’s dated IDs will meet the new requirement.
Zavada said that it is not cost-effective to have dated physically imprinted on the plastic ID cards each semester or school year. Additionally, he said using a four year expiration on student IDs presents the risk that a student might drop out and still have a current card.
Dr. Trisha Brady, prorata professor of English, recently held a voter registration drive with her students. “There’s mainly confusion because the students aren’t aware of the fact that if they were attending college at Misericordia prior to this fall, they could get a valid sticker for their school ID. That sticker allows them to use their MU photo ID at the polls.”
Students can get updated stickers at the student help desk or campus safety.
Out-of-state students may need to use college IDs if they choose to vote in Pennsylvania instead of using an absentee ballot for their state. “If a student is out-of-state and has a New Jersey license but wanted to vote in PA, the student would have to use a passport or go get a PA voter ID at the DMV or have a Pennsylvania driver’s license to vote,” said Brady.
The current sticker will allow students without a PA ID to vote in Pennsylvania. “We want to make sure they can use their school IDs if they get that sticker. The voter ID law will not disenfranchise as many students here on this campus because the school is stickering the IDs for students who request it,” said Brady.
The voter registration drive, which was held September 12 and 13, registered 130 students during its first day.
Gary Samuels, Coordinator of Student Affairs/Community Standards, was planning a voter registration drive on September 25 for National Voter Registration Day but decided to take a different approach. He will hold an ID sticker drive instead.
“I was very excited that this was happening, because I always think a student-led effort is always more successful than a University-led effort.”
This drive will allow him to make the student body aware that they can have a sticker for their IDs, making it valid for voting.
“I have already contacted IT services, Elizabeth Pedro, who does the university ID, overseeing the printing of them and puts the stickers on and I have Paul Zavada so I can try to get the stickers. That way I can try to do a push in Banks, on September 25 so students walking through right then and there can get their sticker,” said Samuels.
Students feeel it’s necessary to help and inform the student body of the ID opportunity.
Chelse Martin, a junior history major who assisted Brady in the voter registration drive, said she is having trouble getting some people to register. With the lack of a valid ID the process is harder for out-of-state residents. “With so many students being from New Jersey, New York, and just out of state I think it [the problem] is the voter ID law. They’re not really sure what to do if they don’t have a PA state’s driver’s license.”
Zavada understands the confusion and has worked to get the ID situation straightened out.
“As with any new law there would be a time period for clarification and interpretation. If college IDs with semester stickers were not ok, we would do what we had to do,” said Zavada.