Long lines, long waits to get voter IDs

At the 8th and Arch PennDOT license center, dozens await chance to get a voter ID.
At the 8th and Arch PennDOT license center, dozens await chance to get a voter ID. (ANDREW EISER/DAILY NEWS STAFF)
Posted: September 28, 2012

A DAY AFTER the state announced a streamlined process for getting a voting-only ID, long lines at some PennDOT offices forced patrons to wait for hours on Wednesday.

"They called D804, and then they stopped," Elsie Torres said, holding the next ticket in line as employees asked her to be patient while they helped their co-workers catch up.

"I've been here for two-and-a-half hours," said Torres, who ultimately waited more than three hours to receive her ID.

Other patrons who spoke with  this reporter at the PennDOT center at 8th and Arch streets said that they had to wait between one and four hours to get an ID that will allow them to vote Nov. 6 under a new state law.

"I need to vote," Torres, 57, said. "I always vote. I don't miss."

Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele said Wednesday that nearly 12,000 new ID cards have been issued to enable residents to vote.

Responding to criticism from the state Supreme Court on lack of access to free IDs, the Department of State on Tuesday unveiled a voting-only ID for registered voters. The new ID does not require proof of residency or a birth certificate but can't be used for things like cashing a check or boarding a plane.

Doris Bess, 64, a district committee member of West Philadelphia's 4th Ward, was at the center helping her 17-year-old grandson get a nondriver ID. She suggested that the lengthy wait times may be sending some away empty-handed.

"When people come down here, they leave and don't get their ID," Bess said. "It's frustrating."

Across town at the Island Avenue center, however, the wait was shorter, but still up to 90 minutes.

PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said that the Arch Street location was the busiest in the state, and that the goal was to serve each customer within 30 minutes.

Starting Friday, McKnight said, the five license centers in the city will stay open for three extra hours every Thursday, to 7 p.m., until Election Day in order to meet the demand.

- The Associated Press

contributed to this report.


Contact Andrew Eiser at 215-854-2513 or eisera@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @andrew_eiser.

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