We have all heard about the major issues surrounding the voter ID law in Pennsylvania. This communication is not a rehash of those concerns but rather a look at the real practical costs of voter ID to people of the commonwealth.
Commonwealth statistics state that 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have the appropriate ID to be able to vote in this November's election. Others groups say that the number is closer to 1 million.
The commonwealth has said it will cost the state $3 million to implement the voter ID program; however the state has not factored in the hidden cost of the voter ID law, the cost to the voter.
The ID may be free, but obtaining the ID is not. The trip cost to get an ID can range anywhere from a round trip city bus pass for some to a multi-hour excursion for others.
There are nine counties in our state that have no Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo ID center. For people in towns like Emporium in Cameron County and Eagles Mere in Sullivan County where no PennDOT facilities exist, they will have to put in more than the ordinary effort to get to their closest center in an adjacent county, perhaps taking more time to get there and back than the average worker's lunch hour.
This trip would cost a few gallons of gas at the least and the additional costs of a person to drive the ID seeker to the PennDOT facility.
If the ID seeker is infirm or has mobility issues, additional assistance, costing additional dollars, will be needed.
Substantial costs could be incurred by the ID seeker.
The commonwealth says that it is doing all it can to make the process as easy and painless as possible for people to get their ID cards.
If that is the case, the state should go all the way on that front and reimburse voters for their out of pocket expenses for obtaining the IDs.
For even the slightest inconvenience that the new voter ID card will cost Pennsylvanians, the commonwealth should absorb the cost of everyone's out of pocket expense.
The commonwealth should reimburse even the cost of a $3 round trip bus fare for someone in Harrisburg or York. If everyone lacking an ID had to obtain the round trip city bus ticket, the costs to reimburse 758,000 Pennsylvanians would add up to almost $2.3 million, not counting the additional administrative expenses.
Some would say that is a ridiculous sum to pay back to people so that they are able to exercise their most basic American right -- the right to vote.
But remember, these people are already registered to vote and have a valid registration card. So isn't it just as ridiculous to make people get an ID card to do something they already have the right to do?
-- Harry Perkinson is an engineer in Dallastown and the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania's 4th Con gressional District.