Jonathan Kanost, 12, and Matthew Kanost, 8, right watch their mother, Amy Kanost of York City, vote at the Roosevelt Avenue fire department on Tuesday. The
Jonathan Kanost, 12, and Matthew Kanost, 8, right watch their mother, Amy Kanost of York City, vote at the Roosevelt Avenue fire department on Tuesday. The boys are home-schooled, and voting was a lesson in government. (Bil Bowden photo)
Confusion about the status of Pennsylvania's voter ID law caused problems at several York County polls Tuesday, officials said.

"Everybody's confused. Everyone is confused about the entire voting process," said Sandra Thompson, an attorney and president of the local NAACP.

Her office has received calls from voters at city and county polling places who claimed their IDs were required to vote, she said.

Voters casting a ballot at the Salvation Army in the city "felt pressured" to show ID, Thompson said.

She went to the polling place to observe the situation and passed on the information to Nikki Suchanic, director of York County's elections and voter registration office.

"There's definitely confusion," Suchanic said. "Our people (poll workers) are required to ask everybody for ID. That's a state mandate. But voters don't have to show ID unless they are voting for the first time ever or have moved and are new to a polling place.''

Last month a Commonwealth Court judge postponed the implementation of a new voter ID law, which would have required voters to show photo identification during Tuesday's election. Because of the October ruling, the law will instead go into effect next year.

Poll workers, however, are still required to ask voters for ID. If voters refuse, they receive a handout about the law, explaining what to expect during forthcoming elections, Suchanic said.

When she looked into complaints about voting at the Salvation Army, she determined the problems involved first-time voters not realizing they were required to show ID - regardless of the impending law.

"The best thing people can do is, if they have ID, just show it. Legally, they are not required to show it, but legally we have to ask. So it's easier to just show it if you have it," Suchanic said.

Thompson said she also heard of similar problems at St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church in York City, the Shiloh Fire Co. in West Manchester Township and Providence Presbyterian Church in Manchester Township.

At the latter, Thompson said voters reported they were asked to produce ID, and verify their address and date of birth. She said similar problems were reported there during the primary.

"This is a problem district. We're going to have to look into it and see what's going on there," she said.

But Suchanic said she hadn't received any reports or complaints about the Manchester Township location as of 1 p.m. Tuesday or during the April primary.

Part of the confusion at the polls may because of a mailer distributed this week by the Corbett administration, claiming photo IDs would be required on Election Day, said Bob Kefauver, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County.

"We don't know how widespread the mailing was, but we're working to correct the blatant misinformation," he said.

Gov. Tom Corbett's office could not be reached for comment early Tuesday.

Kefauver said his office fielded "numerous" calls from voters who had problems at the polls. He said that may be attributed to a number of factors: people pay more attention during presidential elections than other cycle years, the turnout is higher for presidential elections, and the office usually receives more complaints during presidential elections than other years.

This year, complaints have included voter ID confusion, county-paid election officials assisting voters with voting machines and instructing them to select a straight party vote for the Republican ticket, and voters being unaware of their polling place, he said.

"Some are partisan problems, but not all of them," Kefauver said.

Bob Wilson, chairman of the York County Republican Party, said he hadn't received any complaints from voters as of Tuesday afternoon. "All we're hearing is the turnout is extremely heavy countywide," he said. "That's a good thing, regardless of what side of the fence you're on."

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.