As if the usual cost, transportation, and other logistical obstacles to obtaining a photo ID under Pennsylvania’s restrictive new law weren’t enough to keep as many as 750,000 state citizens from the polls, 105-year-old Alice Carlson encountered an extra hurdle last week: her age.
Carlson, a former secretary for the New York City public schools who secured a ride to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles with state Rep. Mario Scavello, was told when she arrived that the computer system could not recognize ages above 104. After a 90-minute wait, and strong advocacy from Scavello, DOT officials devised a work-around and granted her an ID.
Two days later, the PennDOT responded to the incident by announcing a paper-based procedure for voters older than 104. But most voters will not have an elected official by their sides when they encounter a problem obtaining a photo ID, and this episode exemplifies the state’s ill-preparedness to handle the logistical burden of providing residents voter ID. Even Scavello, a Republican legislator who supports the photo ID law, said after the incident, “I guess they don’t really expect 105-year-old folks to come in for an ID.”
Although the stated purpose of the law is to combat voter fraud, Pennsylvania has admitted there are “no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” and that they “do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.” Nationwide, research has found that voters are 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud at the polls, and 3,500 times more likely to report a UFO encounter.
A state court judge recently upheld the photo ID requirement as a proper exercise of the legislature’s authority, but the Supreme Court will review the law Sept. 13.