This November will be an exciting time on Pennsylvania college campuses. Students will vote–many for the first time–in a pivotal election. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law will make it more difficult for many of your students to exercise their democratic rights. We are writing to ask you to protect your students’ right to vote by making sure that a student ID can be used as voter ID by adding an expiration date if it  does not already have one.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the new voter ID law on March 14.  A student ID from an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning is on the list of acceptable photo IDs, but it must contain an expiration date.  According to a study by PennPIRG, about 85% of students in Pennsylvania attend a college or university with a student ID that lacks an expiration date.  A more recent survey done by the ACLU, Rock the Vote, and the Fair Elections Legal Network indicates that most schools have no plans to change their IDs or to implement an education campaign to inform students about the new law. Without a conforming student ID, many students may be unable to vote in 2012.

 

Your school can help students participate in this election in the following ways.

  • Distribute a sticker with an expiration date that students can affix to their IDs.
  • Change the design of the student ID so that it has a printed expiration date.
  • Implement a proactive plan to give students new IDs or stickers and alert the student body of the changes.
  • Print stickers that explicitly state that the printed date is an expiration date. The Secretary of State has stated that volunteers at polling places will decide on Election Day whether a sticker with just “Fall 2012,” for example, is sufficient or not.
  • Inform students of the new requirements and that, if they wish to vote in Pennsylvania, they need to have an acceptable voter ID with them on Election Day.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this important issue. If you have questions about Pennsylvania’s new ID law or other ways in which your school can actively promote voter registration and voting, contact Dan Vicuña, Staff Attorney and Campus Vote Project Coordinator, Fair Elections Legal Network (dvicuna@fairelectionsnetwork.com).