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Politics & Government

Voter ID Causes Absentee Voting Problems

Most of the provisions of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law have been blocked for the November election, but what’s left is creating headaches for some voters trying to get absentee ballots.

Before the voter ID law was passed, voters had only to provide name, address, and birth date to get their absentee ballots. Now, voters must provide either their driver license number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

The requirements have proven problematic in some counties -- including Washington, Westmoreland, and Cambria -- because at times the real numbers don’t match the numbers on file with the county. Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said he’s heard of the problem throughout the state.

“What has happened in a very few instances across the state is the numbers provided have not matched with what the County registration office has on file,” said Ruman. He stressed that there’s no systemic problem causing the non-matches.

“This is very likely the result of human error, when the number was entered the first time and put into the voter registration database,” he said. “We have about eight-and-a-half million registered voters and certainly when those numbers are entered by humans in a few cases, there are human errors that occur.”

Voters who apply for absentee ballots on line with ID numbers that don’t match their county’s system should be contacted directly by their county elections office, Ruman said.

Requests for absentee ballots must be submitted by Tuesday Oct. 30th.  Application can be made either at a county’s elections office or online.  To be eligible for an absentee ballot a registered voters must expect to be absent from their municipality on November 6 or cannot reach the polls due to an illness or physical disability.

In Allegheny County there are three vote places that are not handicap accessible; Haysville Ward 00 District 01, which votes in the storeroom at One Ohio River Blvd., Pittsburgh Ward 24 District 01, which votes at 1011 Haslage Street – St. Ambrose School, Pittsburgh Ward 26 District 17, which votes at 18 Schubert St. – St. Peter’s United Church of Christ.

Any voter with a physical disability registered in those districts is automatically eligible for an absentee ballot.