Pa. Voter ID Law Leads to DMV Trips from 'Hell'

But the state argues that after a $5 million ad campaign - funded entirely from federal voter education grants –a toll-free information hotline and ample documents posted online, voters should be informed and aware of the requirements.

"It's a shared responsibility," said Jan McKnight, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, or PennDot. "We are encouraging everybody to use the information available."

But hundreds of eligible Pennsylvania voters do not meet those requirements to apply for a secure state ID card.

Two weeks ago, on August 27, the state launched a new type "safety net" ID card, which will allow voters who have none of the documentation to prove their identity and residence necessary for the state ID get a photo ID in order to vote. So far nearly 500 of these Department of State voter ID cards have been issued.

"It's a maze to get the IDs," said Vic Walczak, the legal director at the ACLU in Pennsylvania. "If you go through all of the trouble of navigating the maze, which may include several trips to PennDOT, and then at the end of the day you're still stuck in the maze, then they let you get this 'safety net' Department of State ID."

That safety-net ID is only valid for voting and requires a Social Security number, proof of residence and an affidavit pledging that the voter cannot obtain or afford any other form of ID. Because Pennsylvania offers free birth certificate verification for state natives, few people born in the state will be able to qualify for the "safety net" ID. So far the state has spent about $100,000 issuing free IDs to low-income voters, according to the Pennsylvania State Department.

"The entire system is designed to appear reasonable, but in practice is going to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from voting," Walczak said.

Voters who have the six types of documents necessary to apply for the state ID card have limited time to apply. For residents of 13 counties, there is only one day per week that the DMV is open to apply for an ID. And in 10 more counties it's only open two days per week.

For Klincewicz and his 87-year-old mother that limited schedule meant two days of trying in order to get her the ID required to vote, after she mistakenly surrendered her state ID because of a Department of Transportation error.

Klincewicz's wife had to make two trips to the DMV where she and her mother-in-law, Jisele, waited upwards of four hours to get the ID. All told, he and his wife spent more than 20 hours making phone calls, writing emails, driving to the DMV and waiting in lines to get his mother's ID reinstated so she could vote in November, Klincewicz said.

"My mom has not been very politically active, but in this particular election she's on Medicaid and she does have enough lucidity to know that voting for a president that would be taking away some of her benefits is harmful," he said. "She did register to vote, which I had not seen her do in years."

Jisele Klincewicz is deaf and hasn't driven in more than 70 years. Without her son's help, Pennsylvania's new voter ID law would prevent her from voting in the 2012 election, he said.

"It appears to me a solution for which there was no problem to begin with," Klincewicz said. "It does not make me a proud Pennsylvanian, that's for sure."

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