UPDATE: Some College IDs Still Not Compliant with Pa. Voter ID Law
A state consumer group is urging area colleges and universities to offer voter ID-valid cards to students.
UPDATE – Tuesday, Sept. 25:
Two of the colleges listed by PennPIRG as either not having voter ID-law compliant student IDs or as giving inconsistent information or not providing an explicit answer have contacted Patch with new information.
"Chestnut Hill College has been working tirelessly to ensure that our students will have the proper identification to go to the polls in November," said Linda Mixon, media relations manager for Chestnut Hill College, in an email to Patch.
According to Mixon, the following actions have been taken by the college to ensure that students have the necessary information about the law and will have the proper identification necessary to vote:
- Chestnut Hill College student I.D’s are in compliance with the new law and they will be able to use them to vote. Chestnut Hill College student I.D.’s have a photo, and are issued only for that school year (ex. 2012-2013) and expire at the end of the year. Each year when they return to class, a student must get a new I.D.
- Krista Bailey Murphy, Dean of Student Life, sends students an email each year about voter registration in compliance with the Higher Education Act.
- A representative from the College has recently attended a conference with other local schools about the changes in the new voting laws hosted by Jorge Santana, Deputy City Commissioner. With Santana’s help, Chestnut Hill is in the process of securing a official letter that will appear at the College’s local polling station, validating that Chestnut Hill’s I.D. meets the requirements.
According to one Patch user, the following was recently sent to all Gwynedd Mercy College students:
Earlier this year Pennsylvania enacted legislation requiring all voters to present a valid photo ID in order to vote. Only certain forms of photo ID are eligible to be used for voting purposes. One type of photo ID that can be used is an identification card issued by an accredited Pennsylvania institute of higher education. However, in order to be used for voting purposes, the card must bear an expiration date. Gwynedd-Mercy College recognizes that our current cards do not have an expiration date.
In order to assist you with in exercising your civic responsibility, expiration stickers are available at the Campbell Solution Center. This sticker issued by Gwynedd-Mercy College will bear an expiration date that will be after Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6th, and will now render your student ID as a valid form of identification.
Additionally, the Student Government Association will be hosting a Rock the Vote event during Homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 29th from 5-7 pm, and they will distribute expiration stickers at that event.
Cheryl Lynn Horsey, Ph.D.
Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services
Efforts to contact Gwynedd Mercy College to confirm this information have been unsuccessful.
While Pennsylvania's new voter ID law is still being tossed about in the courts (Judge Robert Simpson has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 25, in response to a state Supreme Court ruling last week.), community activists, agencies and even local governments are scrambling to make sure registered voters have the necessary ID.
One of those approved forms of photo ID is a current student ID from an accredited state public or private institution of higher learning so long as it contains the student's name, photo and a current expiration date. While most colleges and university's issue student IDs, not all are in compliance with the new law. According to PennPIRG, a state consumer advocacy group, the most common missing element is an expiration date.
The Voter ID law allows for those institutions to come into compliance by adding an expiration sticker to the ID, but while many institutions are doing just that, some aren't making enough of an effort according to PennPIRG.
The group recently released a survey conducted by a coalition group including itself, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Advancement Project, Campus Compact, the Committee of Seventy, Common Cause, the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN), the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Rock the Vote listing the institutions with and without compliant IDs.
PennPIRG report compiled in April noted that only about 15 of the 110 colleges surveyed back in April had compliant IDs, but since that time 90% of the 156 schools contacted for this most recent survey had compliant IDs.
According to the survey, Gwynedd Mercy College and Bucks County Community College are two of the only local schools who reported no plans to provide expiration dates on IDs, while Harcum, Rosemont and Chestnut Hill colleges gave inconsistent information or did not provide an explicit answer.
Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), Ursinus and Cabrini colleges all report having compliant IDs or plans to distribute expiration date stickers. Temple University recently replaced their old student IDs with new, compliant "OWL" cards.
MCCC Director of Communications Alana Mauger told Patch the community college has had the valid IDs for over a year now and Ursinus College Director of Communications Wendy Greenberg said that Ursinus has a system in place for students who wish to make their IDs compliant.
"Students who wish to vote in the 2012 PA election may bring their ID to the Technical Support Department and have a dated sticker placed on it to validate it for the polls," said Greenberg, in an email to Patch.
Efforts to reach representatives of Gwynedd Mercy College for comment were unsuccessful.
PennPIRG, who claims that over 28,000 students may still be in danger of being turned away at the polls, is urging colleges and universities who are still not offering a complaint ID to make the effort on behalf of their students.
"It's imperative these schools engage as many students as possible to ensure wide democratic participation." said PennPIRG's Angela Lee.
You can find the report with the full list of compliant and non-compliant institutions in our PDF section.