Allegheny County Exec Rich Fitzgerald is a goddamn hero. He figured out a loophole in the Voter ID law that will allow the county’s community colleges and nursing homes to issue photo IDs to anyone – not just their students and nursing home residents.
Time for KP readers to go out and badger their County Executives to follow suit.
Chris Potter explains how it works:
To obtain the county ID, you must already be a registered voter, and you must have some proof of identification. But the requirements are the same as existed statewide until VoterID requirements were established this year. They include: a non-photo ID issued by the state or federal government, a gun permit, a current utility bill or bank statement, or a paycheck or — for all you 47 percenters out there — government check.
The IDs will be available at the various branches of the Kane Regional Center nursing home system, or the campuses of the Community College of Allegheny County. While Fitzgerald said the IDs would be offered “within the week,” exact times and locations have yet to be determined. But the IDs will be free, and here’s the thing: You don’t have to be a patient, or a student, to get the ID.
Fitzgerald is relying on a till-now little-noted provision of the Voter ID law. Act 18 sets out a number of IDs that may be legitimate for voting purposes. Along with driver’s licenses and passports are ID “issued by … An accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning,” as well as “a Pennsylvania care facility.” This would allow universities to issue IDs to students, and long-term care facilities to issue them to patients.
But here’s the funny part. While any ID must meet certain requirements under the law — it must have a photo and expiration date, for example — there’s nothing in the law that says a college can only issue IDs to its own employees or students. Neither is there any restriction on the IDs issued by nursing homes. By contrast, while the law also allows local municipalities to issue IDs, it specifies that they can only be issued to “an employee of that municipality.”
So it looks to me like Fitzgerald is trying to exploit a bit of a loophole. Under the law, Allegheny County can’t issue it’s own voter IDs to citizens — even though the county actually conducts elections. But CCAC and Kane hospital are under no such restrictions.