Allegheny adjusts to new voter-ID law

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In the months before the upcoming elections, Allegheny students will be offered an alternative way to clear Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID restrictions: their All-Cards.

All new cards printed for incoming first years, and reprints for upperclassmen, will include an expiration date to comply with stipulations stating that IDs must include a current expiration date.

To prevent having to re-print the All-Cards of every student on campus, the Center for Political Participation will be offering upperclassmen official stickers with expiration dates to place on their cards.

The law, which has been a controversial issue since it passed in Pennsylvania’s last March, requires that voters present a valid form of ID each time they go to the polls.

In addition to a student IDs from an accredited Pennsylvania university, these valid forms include: a U.S. passport; a Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s license; a U.S. military ID; an employee photo ID issued for of the Pennsylvania government; a photo ID issued by a Pennsylvania care facility such as a nursing home; or a Department of State Voter ID Card.

Because Allegheny student IDs didn’t previously include expiration dates, many students – particularly out-of-state and non-driving students – would have been ineligible to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential elections.

“I saw it on the news over spring break and I immediately emailed Mary Solberg [program coordinator for the CPP] because I knew it was going to be an issue,” said Nick Diana, ’13, president of the College Democrats. “Voting on campus is already an issue, so any obstacle to that is going to be huge.”

By April, student representatives were meeting with Jeff Schneider, college safety director, to discuss what actions to take.

“It’s really a great collaborative effort with CPP, Democrats, Republicans – we all worked together to accomplish this goal,” Solberg said. “I think the best part of this is that the administration was really open to helping us.”

Over the course of the summer, Allegheny’s Executive Council approved the change, and Computer Services worked with Safety and Security to modify Allegheny’s existing machinery to allow them to print the new cards.

Jodi Millin, the financial systems coordinator of Allegheny Finance Department, made the stickers after approval was gained from the Pennsylvania Department of State. The only remaining problem facing the initiative this semester is distributing the stickers to the upperclassmen who need them.

According to Solberg, the stickers will be available in the CPP office in Brooks, and at tabling events hosted by the CPP that will be stationed around campus in the next few weeks.

Diana also encouraged students who want to vote in Crawford County to seek out students in the College Democrats, Republicans and ASG who have access to the stickers.

“There’s no reason in the world why Allegheny students won’t be able to have these on their cards to vote,” Solberg said.

Diana said the fact that it’s harder for students to vote this year is exactly the reason why it’s imperative for them to make their opinions count at the polls.

“I think it’s important…if you are apathetic about every other issue in the campaign, it’s important as a student, if you care about your voice being heard at all, period, it’s important that you vote,” he said. “Because by voting, just through the virtue of voting, you’re saying that you will exercise your right despite these hurdles that you have to jump through.”

Although Allegheny is prepared for the restrictions of the new law, it is still somewhat uncertain if it will be in place by the time of the elections. Similar voter-ID laws in Texas were recently ruled unconstitutional in Federal court, and Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court will listen to the same allegations Sept. 13 when it convenes to hear an appeal by The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

The last ruling in the progression of the case was Aug. 15 by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who ruled in favor of the law.

“For now the law still stands,” Schneider said. “Pennsylvania hasn’t budged, and we’re ready for it.”