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Many licensing centers to be open Nov. 5 for voter ID

Published September 26. 2012 05:02PM

People who find themselves still in need of the necessary documents required to be permitted to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election will be able to visit any of 48 state Department of Transportation licensing centers on Nov. 5.

The centers are normally closed on Mondays, but will be open in this special case.

However, the Carbon County center, located on Interchange Road at the Carbon Plaza mall, will not be among them. That's because that center is not a "home" center, said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight.

"The staff who work at that (driver's license center) travel among Lehighton, Berwick and Hazleton," she said.

The next closest center that will be open that day is in Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County. The addresses of the centers that will be open can be found at, or by calling 1-800-932-4600.

PennDOT announced the special open day on Tuesday. The last-minute opening was arranged through a combined effort of PennDOT and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The union represents driver licensing center employees.

"I applaud the efforts of AFSCME to work with us on this important effort," said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. "Our employees have been working tirelessly to be certain that any Pennsylvanian who needs an ID for voting purposes has it, and efforts like this show our commitment to getting the job done."

Since Pennsylvania's Voter ID law went into effect in March, PennDOT has tried to make it as easy as possible for voters to get the documents they need to comply and be able to vote. That included extending the hours at five centers in Philadelphia, and working with the state Department of Health to create a streamlined process for people who lack a birth certificate with a raised seal.

The new law requires people to present a photo identification card in order to be allowed to vote. Critics of the law believe it is being rushed through in a veiled effort by Republicans to disenfranchise the elderly, minorities and the poor people who statistically vote Democrat from casting ballots that will be counted in the upcoming presidential election. Proponents counter that it is needed to quash voter fraud.

However, both sides agreed as the constitutionality of the law was challenged in the state Supreme Court, that no cases of voter fraud had been identified in Pennsylvania. The law has also since been revised, easing the requirements for people to get voter-only identification cards from PennDOT licensing centers.

As election day approaches, the question of the constitutionality of the Voter ID law continues to wend its way through the courts. On Sept. 18, the Supreme Court sent the matter back to Commonwealth Court, ordering Judge Robert E. Simpson to deliver his opinion by Oct. 2 as to whether all eligible voters would be able to obtain the required identification if the law is upheld.

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