Aside from the disconnect between the new law and the understanding of how many people might be affected, there's also a frightening disconnect between how many people might need PennDOT's services — in a short time — and the department's ability to handle the volume.
The state did announce that it would modify its requirements for the proper ID starting late in August, removing the burden of producing original birth certificates and Social Security cards. Still, as City Commissioner Stephanie Singer pointed out, that would require PennDOT to issue more than 15,000 ID cards every business day between Aug. 26 and Election Day.
It will also require many people to visit PennDOT offices in person. There are five in Philadelphia; most of them close at 4:15 p.m. PennDOT says it has no plans to hire additional workers to handle the volume.
We have reason to hope that this law — designed to combat voter fraud for which no evidence exists — may encounter obstacles that will delay its implementation, since the governor seems unwilling to do so. The ACLU and others will argue Wednesday before Commonwealth Court in a suit they have filed claiming that the law violates the state Constititution. The state admitted that it will offer no evidence that voter fraud has occurred in Pennsylvania, and said it had no investigations or prosecutions related to fraud.
And Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an investigation into the law; it wants to see proof of the state's claims of how many people have the ID they'll need to vote in November. The Department of Justice recently blocked a voter-ID law in South Carolina.
Because of the widespread potential disenfranchisement this law could create, we're hoping the same fate awaits Pennsylvania's law. But that won't solve the problem of the kind of irresponsible lawmaking that is not required to provide proof or evidence of its necessity, nor more than two seconds of thought for how the people who will be affected by the law might be unable follow its requirements.