College identification critical to vote on Nov. 6

Christine Lee, News Editor

Even though the voter identification law was struck down, identification cards will still be important for Pennsylvania college students, especially those who are first-time voters.

Earlier this month, Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court struck down a key component of a state law requiring a strict form of photo identification approved by the Commonwealth. This means Pennsylvania voters will not have to present a state-approved form of identification to vote in next month’s election.

Wilkes student ID cards do not have an expiration date but Public Safety manager Jerry Rebo said if a student requests an expiration date for their ID for voting, they will give them one.

In a press teleconference on Oct. 25, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said voters will be asked for photo identification but it is not required.

However, she said people who are voting for the first time or voting in a new precinct need to have some form of identification to vote. These forms include a student ID card with an expiration date, a driver’s license, a U.S passport, a utility bill or bank statement.

Aichele thinks there was a sincere attempt on the part of the general assembly to enfranchise younger voters by adding college photo ID’s with expiration dates to the kinds of acceptable forms of identification that would be accepted for voting purposes in Pennsylvania.

She said the bigger problem the Commonwealth had with voter identification was senior citizens who never had a birth certificate or were unable to get a birth certificate to provide proof of identification.

“Most of our young people today have birth certificates that they can access and also have social security numbers because I think social security numbers are issued at birth,” Aichele said. “The younger generation is far more suited to getting photo identification under the new process than some of our 80 and 90-year-old citizens.”

Aichele said the process of upgrading university ID cards began with Temple University, when political affiliates in the student body asked that Temple update their student ID cards by putting expiration dates on the cards, which made it possible for thousands of thousands of Pennsylvania college students to vote.

Aichele added that 141 of the 156 colleges in Pennsylvania had changed their ID cards or offered stickers on them, which makes it easier for students to vote.

“We think that we’ve got most of the college kids covered and we hope that they take advantage of this opportunity to vote here in Pennsylvania,” Aichele said.

Aichele said the Commonwealth is really encouraging their university systems to get behind the movement to make sure the Commonwealth’s youngest voters participate in the election process and to make the process easier for them.

“We’re hoping that Pennsylvania universities have that as one of their priorities in every election year but particularly in this one,” Aichele said.

Aichele strongly recommends young voters get photo identification because proof of identification is so much a part everything done today if one is 18 years of age or older.

“If you’re 18 years of age or older you probably need to have a photo ID for a lot of reasons; everything from buying allergy medicine to riding on an airplane,” Aichele said.

Senior English major Jon Kadjeski is comfortable with his forms of identification for voting and is glad the law was struck down.

“I feel that it was a good idea done improperly, I think that people should have to show a stronger, more fool-proof form of identification but the way the law was working, it was requiring people to spend money to be able to vote, which I just don’t agree with. ” Kadjeski said. “Fortunately, because I am a driver and I’ve been overseas through Wilkes, I have a college ID, a driver’s license and a passport so I would have been OK, either way.”

Aichele hopes to establish a pattern for voting going forward in Pennsylvania so the Commonwealth is able to make sure people who are voting on Election Day are who they claim to be.

“We’re going to try to make sure that we begin the process of educating voters to the new voter ID law and establish a pattern going forward in Pennsylvania so that we’re able to make sure that people who present themselves to vote at Pennsylvania polling places are who they say they are,” Aichele said.

Election Day nationwide is Nov. 6 and a polling place will be set up at the Marts Gym.

For a list of voting locations in the city of Wilkes-Barre and accross Luzerne County, click here