Pa. colleges move to ensure students have valid voter IDs

September 18, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Clockwise from left, Haley Sandoe, Ryan Shelmire and David Manikowski study Tuesday at Penn State Mont Alto. The college added expiration dates to its ID cards to comply with a new voter law in Pennsylvania.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Southcentral Pennsylvania colleges are taking steps to create photo identification cards compatible with the state’s new voter identification law, but some students say they will use their driver’s licenses at the polls — if they vote at all.

“I’m just not really into politics,” said Corinne Crawford, a 19-year-old enrolled at Penn State Mont Alto.

“I don’t even know how to register,” Britnee Voycheske, 18, said.

For the first time in an election, Pennsylvania voters might be required to show photo ID before casting ballots Nov. 6. The new law is being debated in court, with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday sending a related case back to a lower court judge.

Acceptable forms of identification include driver’s licenses, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo ID cards, U.S. passports, military IDs, college IDs and identification cards issued by nursing homes. All must include the voter’s name, photo and an expiration date that is current.

Some colleges are now changing their ID cards to include expiration dates.

Shippensburg (Pa.) University offered to add expiration dates for new students who enrolled this fall, school spokesman Peter Gigliotti said.

“To get a Ship student ID, students had to present some form of photo ID, and the vast majority of them already had a driver’s license or some other ID that they could use for voting,” Gigliotti wrote in an email.

Returning students needing a college ID to vote will be provided with a new one with an expiration date, he said.

Carolyn Perkins, vice president for student development and dean of students at Wilson College, said the college’s identification cards already had a sticker that complies as a valid expiration date.

“We also have told students how to get a picture ID from the state if necessary,” Perkins said, saying information appeared in a campus newsletter.

All first-year Penn State Mont Alto students should have a card that complies with voter ID requirements, school spokeswoman Kristie Fry said.

“The Penn State id+ card was changed in May 2012 to begin printing an expiration date on the card to accommodate the new law,” she said.

The campus also is preparing expiration stickers as “a stopgap measure” for returning students who need them on older IDs to vote this year, Fry said.

Penn State Mont Alto freshman Ryan Shelmire, 17, said he will use his driver’s license when he votes. Shelmire, of Tioga County, Pa., learned of the law through news coverage.

“I’m perfectly fine with it,” he said.

Shelmire said he plans to vote for Mitt Romney because he supports the candidate’s economic policies.

Haley Sandoe, 18, of Gettysburg, Pa., is undecided whether she’ll vote, but if she does, she plans to use her driver’s license.

David Manikowski, 18, of Greencastle, Pa., said he will not vote because he does not want to make an uneducated decision.

“I don’t know enough about the candidates,” he said.

When Hailey Nye, 18, casts her vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket, the Concord, Pa., resident will use her driver’s license for identification, she said. Nye said she supports the GOP candidates for their stances on gun rights.

Voters using absentee ballots, such as college students away from home, will be required to write their driver’s license or PennDOT card numbers on the applications for ballots. Without those cards, they must provide the last four digits of their Social Security numbers on the application for absentee ballots.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9.

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