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Tennessee judge upholds voter ID law

by Admin 28. September 2012 12:03

Voters in the state of Tennessee must comply with the state's voter identification statute, a Nashville judge ruled earlier this week, The Associated Press reports.

Chancery Court Judge Carol McCoy with Davidson County issued the ruling on Wednesday following roughly three hours of oral arguments. Her finding opposes the opinion of civil rights attorney George Barrett who argued the constitution of Tennessee mandates proof of legal age, residency and registration.

Barrett said the law demanding voters only may cast ballots with photo identification cards issued by the state or federal government.

But the judge said the past few years have seen evolving voting procedures, which enable the state legislature to move forward with laws that help ensure "the purity of the ballot box."

Douglas Johnson, who argued the case alongside Barrett, said lawmakers' motive is to hold down the participation of minorities for the presidential election in November.

But one Republican state senator praised the judge's ruling and said that court action demonstrates the law's validity and constitutionality, The Shreveport Times reports.

On Wednesday "we had affirmation in state court, in addition to federal court affirmation in July, that Tennessee has the right to guard against voter fraud and 'to secure the freedom of elections and the purity of the ballot box,' as our Constitution states," according to a statement issued by Senator Bill Ketron.

Exceptions to the law are available for senior citizens who reside in nursing homes and for people casting absentee ballots.

But voters who are unable to demonstrate an acceptable photo identification on election day in early November may return to the election office in their county within two business days to demonstrate they have an ID.

If they do not take those steps, their vote will not register, the news source reports.

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Pennsylvania official lauds college's voter ID efforts

by Admin 27. September 2012 11:09

A Pennsylvania college has drawn praise for its practices of enabling voting for its students by creating acceptable identification cards that comply with the state's voter ID law, according to a published report.

While the constitutionality of that voter ID legislation is tied up in the state's court system, Secretary of State Carol Aichele said that Pennsylvania State University produced ID cards that help its students vote, Gant Daily reports.

The law mandates that voters in the state must show a valid photo ID in order to cast ballots, beginning on Election Day this November.

"Penn State quickly took action to add expiration dates to ID cards for incoming students beginning with this past summer term, and making university issued stickers available for returning students, to insure all Penn State students are able to vote," the secretary of state said at a news conference Wednesday in the Hetzel Union Building on Penn State’s University Park Campus, according to the news source.

She underscored the importance of Penn State taking action, and noted that the entire student body of roughly 90,000 students can benefit.

Many of the students do not have any form of ID other than their college identification so what the school did to enable the students' abilities to vote gained favor.

"Penn State is our state's largest university, and this action made sure any of the school's 90,000-plus students who don't have other acceptable ID can vote using their student ID," said the woman who directs the government agency that manages elections in Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press reports that attorneys aiming to stave off enactment of the voter ID law in the state are calling witnesses to the stand on Thursday to testify about the challenges they face acquiring ID badges.

The matter is back in the hands of Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson after a higher bench returned the issue to him.

 

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Pennsylvania school prepared to issue new ID cards

by Admin 25. September 2012 14:34

A college in North Central Pennsylvania is providing students with new photo identification cards to enable them to vote in the November election, according to a published report.

Vice president of student affairs Linda Koch with Loch Haven University said the new IDs will have expiration dates on them, The Express reports.

New students at the school were given the new cards and returning students have the opportunity to request the new student identification cards that have expiration dates so they may vote in elections, Koch told the school's Council of Trustees meeting late last month.

"We will announce the availability of the new ID during voter registration drives on the campus," states an email penned by the vice president to The Express.

But the students  need to prove that they are eligible to vote in order to receive the new ID card.

Koch noted that the dates for the voter registration drive have not yet been set.

"Students requesting a new ID for voting purposes will also need to provide proof of their voter registration," the vice president's email states.

To comply with Pennsylvania's voter ID law, specific identification cards are needed to cast ballots. Proponents say it is a strong way of cutting down on voter fraud.

Students who request new cards will have them returned within minutes of when the picture is taken, Koch said.

As of the article's publication, not one student had requested a new ID card, according to Koch.

She said the school designed the cards with a specific goal in mind.

"The telecommunications office provided the new design of the card and the needed information that was required to have an expiration date imprinted on the card for each student," Koch wrote.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has begun reviewing the current process of issuing photo identification cards, according to CBS.

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Voter ID laws threaten to disenfranchise Latinos, advocacy says

by Admin 25. September 2012 11:19

The controversial voter ID law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could suppress the ballots of as many as 52,000 Latino voters on Election Day in November, a civil rights organization said earlier this week, according to The Philadelphia Daily News.

In a state where roughly 323,000 Latino voters reside, the controversial law threatens to restrict the votes of legitimate voters who are legally able to cast ballots. The Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, released its report on Monday that warns the new law threatens to disenfranchise Latinos nationwide.

Mandating voters bear ID cards when casting ballots is part of an effort to stave off election fraud.

As many as 10 million eligible Latino voters might be adversely impacted by the voter ID laws that more than 20 states are now using, according to the civil rights organization.

"The pattern is unmistakable. State after state has moved to obstruct the ability of millions of Latino citizens to participate in our democracy," co-director Judith Browne Dianis with The Advancement Project said. "This concerted effort targeting Latinos and other voters of color not only undermines the principles of our constitution's guarantee of equal protection, but also impairs the fundamental American value of ensuring all citizens have an equal voice."

In Pennsylvania, the staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has not received sufficient training to process voter identifications, co-director Penda Hair with The Advancement Group told The Philadelphia Daily News.

"You don't have to pay $13 or have a birth certificate to get acceptable ID," Hair told the news source, "but many PennDOT staff don't understand this."

But the Pennsylvania Department of State is fully equipped and capable of handling this issue, an official with the agency told the news source.

"If someone is coming in and actually depicting themselves with proper forms, PennDOT staff have been trained on what to do to issue a voter-ID card," spokesman Nick Winkler told The Philadelphia Daily News.

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Eastern Pennsylvania county honors veterans with discounts

by Admin 24. September 2012 12:40

An Eastern Pennsylvania county is honoring its veterans with reduced charges for various services after they bear an identification card, according to a published report.

Chester County kicked off the Veterans ID and Discount program late last week during a breakfast in West Chester, The Pottsdown Mercury reports. For the Friday morning event at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 106, county recorder Rick Loughery invited local businesses to offer discounts to veterans who use the photo identification badges.

The identification cards are available at no charge to veterans who present discharge paperwork with the recorder's office, Loughery told the news source.

"This program honors the sacrifice of our veterans in a very special way," the county recorder told the publication. "The photo ID card is a meaningful and unique recognition of their service to our country. I am thankful to the local businesses that have signed up to give so generously in support of our veterans."

Nearby Bucks and Montgomery counties preceded Chester's program by bestowing the ID cards to thousands of veterans.

More than 40 businesses countywide are involved in the effort. Additional companies are likely to come aboard and demonstrate deference for the veterans' service to the nation.

Veterans who attended the breakfast brought the discharge documents, which were submitted to staff with the recorder of deeds. Their pictures were taken for the identification card, which later will be mailed to the veterans.

Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Truitt, 156th District Republican, hosted the continental breakfast and delivered a speech about state programs available for the veterans. Commissioners Terence Farrell and Ryan Costello with Chester County also spoke and director Paul Andriole with Veterans Affairs was in attendance.

The Unionville Times reports the discounts are available for dining, dentists, automotive services and chiropractic care, among other services.

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Minnesota voter ID law leaves more questions than answers

by Admin 21. September 2012 11:11

Minnesota is wrestling with a voter photo ID amendment but the language of the proposal does not cite the exact kind of government identification cards that will be accepted, according to a published report.

Should the measure pass when voters act this November, it would be added to the state constitution, KARE 11 reports. But it won't be implemented until next summer.

Calling for individuals looking to cast ballots to show "valid, government-issued photographic identification," the amendment leaves unclear what is a valid government-issued identification card.

"There's a debate about what a valid government-issued ID is and whether the legislature will get to determine that," government affairs head Beth Fraser with the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office told the news source. "Is a valid government-issued photo ID one issued by the State of Minnesota, the United States government, or Hoboken, New Jersey City Council?"

People who do not hold a valid identification card or who do not have documents that demonstrate their residence is in the precinct will be provided a provisional ballot.

But that provisional ballot only will be counted following verification of their identities and place of residence.

Fraser even questions whether she will be able to cast a ballot with the identification card she holds.

"This is a government issued photo ID," said the government affairs head while showing her state employee photo identification card. "Would this allow me to vote? I mean that's up for debate."

College students may cast absentee ballots in their home precincts. They also may register to vote where they're in school. And they may use student identification cards to register to cast ballots in advance, but those cards also may be used on Election Day.

The Duluth News Tribune reports statewide Democrats are overtly opposed to voter ID amendments and legislation.

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Keene State College unveils new Owl Card

by Admin 20. September 2012 14:31

Keene State College is ready to deploy a new student ID card, called the Owl Card, to students after roughly a year of planning. New technologies incorporated with the badge will enable students to use their personal ID cards for a wider range of purposes, according to a report by KSC's student newspaper, The Equinox.

The deployment of the ID card is also introducing new policies, as students, staff and faculty members are no longer allowed to punch in their identification number if they have forgotten or lost their badge, the newspaper said. The main reason this new policy is in place is to encourage individuals to carry their ID cards with them at all times.

"You wouldn't think of getting in your car without your driver's license, so why would you go on campus without your ID?" said Gordi Davis, the cashier at the Zorn Dining Commons.

Davis said he is required to check that all card users are who they say they are, but it grows increasingly difficult when names and faces are worn off from excessive swiping, The Equinox reported. The new Owl Card will have double lamination to make it more durable.

"The intent is that it will last longer," said Rebecca Briggs, a registered dietitian in the dining commons, according to the student newspaper.

Requirements outside the cafeteria
The Spaulding Gymnasium is implementing a similar policy, as it will require individuals to leave the premises if they do not have their ID card, The Equinox reported. As a result, employees will be able to prevent non-students, faculty and staff members from using the facility's equipment.

"If the card is so beat up and worn off, we will tell them to go get a new one," director of recreational sports Lynne Andrews said, according to The Equinox.

Other colleges are also deploying new student ID cards. UMass, for example, recently unveiled it's new badge that can be used for a number of purposes. This multi-function card is intended to make student and faculty life easier, according to a report by The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

As smart cards, near-field communications and other identification technologies evolve, more educational facilities will likely upgrade existing ID cards to make life more convenient for users.

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Barnard College mandates ID cards for late-night, early-morning entry

by Admin 20. September 2012 11:30

A women's college in New York has implemented a new security measure to keep a check on late night and early morning access to campus, according to a published report.

The public safety department at Barnard College requires students and faculty to show an identification card when passing through the school's gates from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., The Columbia Spectator reports. Those seeking entry can show either a Barnard College identification or a Columbia University badge. Columbia, which is nearby, and Barnard have shared a partnership since Barnard was founded in 1889, according to the Barnard website.

The new standard started when this semester began "with the goal of providing a more secure campus environment," states an email to the news source from public safety director Dianna Pennetti with Barnard College.

This past spring, school administrators met with last year's vice president Rachel Ferrari with the Student Government Association to discuss the matter.

"After the student leaders provided positive feedback and welcomed the idea, the College went ahead with plans to establish the new policy," according to the public safety director.

One person recently was arrested for breaching the new practice on Columbia University's campus.

After dishonestly stating she was a student, a woman who trespassed was charged and made the issue of campus security all the more pertinent to some people.

One student said that she is hopeful that campus will be safer if people who gain access have identification cards. But she also noted that she enjoyed an element of comfort.

"We are hopeful the new policy will provide a more secure environment for our campus community," the public safety director said.

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Top court in Pennsylvania returns voter ID case to lower court

by Admin 19. September 2012 11:50

Pennsylvania's voter ID law might not survive until the November election, according to a ruling handed down by the state's top court.

The Associated Press reports the highest court advised a lower bench to intervene and prevent a newly enacted photo identification law from being enforced in November should the judge determine that eligible voters are unable to acquire identification cards.

That judge also may step in if voters have the potential to be disenfranchised from voting, according to the ruling issued on Tuesday. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania voted 4-2 to return the case to the Commonwealth Court, where a judge last month issued an initial ruling that approved the voter ID law.

But if the judge determines that voters will not be disenfranchised and identification badges are easy to acquire, that law may remain in place, according to the ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Lead attorney David Gersch with the side challenging the law said the Supreme Court established a more stringent standard as compared to what the Commonwealth Court judge employed when he declined the request issued by the plaintiffs.

"It's certainly a very positive step in the right direction in that the court recognizes that the state does not make adequate provision for people to get the ID that they would need to vote," Gersch told the wire service. "In addition, there is a practical problem with getting the ID to people in the short time available."

The official Pennsylvania office that oversees statewide voting and elections also agreed to comply.

"We believe, as we have all along, that any legal voter who wants to get an ID is able to do so," State Department spokesman Ron Ruman told the news service.

Reuters reports the Republican-led legislature passed the law in March.

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Pennsylvania schools distribute IDs that enable voting in November

by Admin 18. September 2012 11:29

Many academic institutions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will act to enable their students to vote in early November by issuing new identification cards, according to a published report.

Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group determined that 95 of 110 colleges in the state do not issue student ID badges that meet the new regulations of the state's voter ID law, The Philadelphia Daily News reports. People are eligible to vote if they hold IDs that bear photographs and an expiration date.

Of those110 schools, only 15 issued IDs that have expiration dates. Some schools issued IDs that did not even have photographs, according to the consumer advocacy group.

After the survey was administered, organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Rock the Vote and the Committee of the Seventy encouraged the schools to inform students of the laws. In turn, that spurred some of the schools to issue members of the student body new ID cards or stickers that held expiration dates, according to the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group.

Temple University in Philadelphia emerged as one school to issue new identification badges that have an expiration date. But a group spokeswoman would not indicate which other universities have enacted changes.

The law in Pennsylvania and additional states has raised the ire of many voting-rights advocacy groups that claim the legislation threatens to disenfranchise voters who tend to be young and Democrat-leaning students since they are less inclined to hold driver's licenses or nondriver identification cards as compared to the remainder of the general population.

The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group confronts powerful entities that pose a peril against health and safety, financial and economic security, and the people's constitutional right to partake in the nation's democratic processes, according to the group's website.

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