Council plans to help voters needing photo ID

City Council President Darrell Clarke (right) says that he and other Council members will help arrange transportation for some voters who may have trouble obtaining the necessary ID to cast their ballots in the Nov. 6 election. Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
City Council President Darrell Clarke (right) says that he and other Council members will help arrange transportation for some voters who may have trouble obtaining the necessary ID to cast their ballots in the Nov. 6 election. Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 01, 2012

IF YOU NEED assistance traveling to the nearest PennDOT center to get proper identification to vote, City Council is here to help.

Council President Darrell Clarke announced Monday that Council is partnering with the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition to educate and clear up any confusion about the controversial voter-ID law, which requires voters to present an unexpired photo ID at the polls in November.

Clarke said the coalition reached out to Council about a month ago asking for assistance in educating Philadelphians and he decided to take it a step further.

"We're going to be in the position to provide transportation for individuals that need to be taken to voter-ID centers," said Clarke, who was joined at the news conference inside Strawberry Mansion High School by Council members Maria Quinones Sanchez, Cindy Bass and Bobby Henon, City Commissioner Anthony Clark and representatives from the Hispanic Bar Association, the Senior Law Center and other groups. Clarke said the effort also includes distributing handouts and placing advertisements.

"We will leave no stone unturned in terms of our ability to make sure that people, if they want to get ID and they want to be in a position to vote, that opportunity will be there," Clarke said.

Clarke said he and some other members will pay for transportation through campaign funds. In particular, the transportation service is aimed at helping senior citizens, who advocates say would be among the most affected by the law. Clarke stressed that no city cars would be used and no city workers would be involved. He said he's looking for volunteers to help out.

The Pennsylvania Department of State said earlier this month that 187,000 Philadelphians do not have a PennDOT photo ID. State officials have said the law is needed to prevent voter fraud, but John Jordan, director of civic engagement for the NAACP, said the "law is strategic, it's targeted and it's [a] well-funded" plan to disenfranchise voters.

Jordan is set to testify Tuesday in Commonwealth Court in a suit filed by the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that the law will make it harder for thousands of voters to cast their ballots.

Separately, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the law.

For more information, call the election protection hot line at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or Clarke's office at 215-686-2070.

Contact Jan Ransom at 215-854-5218 or ransomj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jan_Ransom. Read her blog at phillyclout.com.

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