City decides against issuing voter IDs from homes, college

Posted: September 26, 2012

The Nutter administration has decided not to follow the lead of Montgomery and Allegheny Counties in issuing photo ID cards for Philadelphia voters through county nursing facilities or Community College of Philadelphia.

City lawyers are not certain such IDs would be accepted at polling places, and the city intends to use its limited resources in other ways to help registered voters who need photo ID to cast ballots in November, said Brian Abernathy, chief of staff in the city managing director's office.

"With limited resources, the city's efforts should and will be focused on actions that we know will be successful and guarantee voters the right to vote," Abernathy said in an e-mail to the PA Voter ID Coalition, an amalgam of more than 150 groups trying to help the public deal with new voter ID requirements approved by the legislature and Gov. Corbett in March.

The fate of the law is uncertain. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. was to begin hearing oral arguments Tuesday, after the Supreme Court directed him to determine whether any voters will be disenfranchised. A second day of proceedings, if necessary, will be Thursday. Simpson was told to rule by next Tuesday.

Mayor Nutter announced two weeks ago that the city would step up its efforts to publicize requirements of the new law and help provide transportation to get registered voters to state Department of Transportation offices to obtain photo ID cards.

The city's initial plan was to let groups involved in the Voter ID Coalition use the city's Zipcar account to rent vehicles to take people to PennDot licensing centers. But that plan fell through because of scheduling difficulties, Abernathy said.

The city's new plan is to provide transportation directly, using city-owned vehicles and city fleet mechanics assigned to light duties because of injuries. To his knowledge, he said, the city has not yet received any requests for transportation help from coalition members.


Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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