You’re an average voter in Pennsylvania. The night before Election Day, your wallet goes missing, leaving you without immediate access to any of the identification you’ll need to vote at your local precinct the following morning.
While many people in this situation may have backup forms of identification, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/pennsylvania-voter-id-law_n_1652469.html” target=”_hplink”>studies have shown</a> that a significant percentage of would-be voters don’t. The state’s safeguard against the immediate disenfranchisement of people in this situation is a provisional ballot cast on the day of the election. But this doesn’t mean your vote counts, yet.
According to <a href=”http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx#PA” target=”_hplink”>Pennsylvania’s new photo ID law</a>, anyone who casts a provisional ballot is required to “appear in person at the county board of elections” within six days of the vote to provide proof that their ballot was valid.
If you’re able to take time away from your job to do this, the process still requires a would-be voter to either show up with valid ID — a replacement driver’s license <a href=”http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/fees/index.shtml” target=”_hplink”>would cost $36</a> and considerable time — or to sign an affirmation that you are indigent and not able to afford the fees associated with acquiring a photo ID.
Even if you make a rapid and somewhat expensive turnaround to get a replacement ID — or alternatively swear under oath that you are too poor to pay for such a document — there is no guarantee that your vote will end up counting. Many elections are largely decided before provisional voters have a chance to verify their validity, which could serve to discouraging them from following up with election officials or leave them effectively disenfranchised.
In 2008, <a href=”http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/Documents/2008 Election Administration and Voting Survey EAVS Report.pdf” target=”_hplink”>only 61.8 percent</a> of all provisional ballots cast were fully counted. With the recent implementation of these strict photo ID measures, however, the number of provisional ballots submitted will likely increase, as will the requirements for voters hoping to make them count.