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MontCo to Issue IDs to Voters through Nursing Facility

Apparent loophole in state's voter ID law will allow any registered voter to obtain photo identification from the Parkhouse Senior Care Center in Upper Providence. Other locations may also offer the service.

With the 2012 elections less than seven weeks away, registered Montgomery County voters who still lack acceptable voter identification got an assist from the county's Board of Commissioners on Thursday.

Exploiting an apparent loophole in the controversial Voter ID law that was passed by the state legislature last spring, the commissioners passed a resolution that will allow the county to begin issuing valid voter identification cards to registered voters under the auspices of the Parkhouse nursing care facility in Upper Providence Township.

The resolution takes advantage of a section of the law that lists which entities are allowed to issue acceptable forms of voter identification. Section 1 (z.5)(2) lists the federal or state governments, an accredited Pennsylvania institution of higher learning, a municipality of the Commonwealth, or a "Pennsylvania care facility."

According to David Robinson, an assistant solicitor for the county, the law states that municipalities can only issue identification cards to their employees, but the other authorized issuers are not restricted in their ability to issue identification.

A passport is an example of federally issued identification, while a Pennsylvania driver license or a voting ID from the PA Department of State are examples of state-issued identification.

"A strict reading of the law clearly authorizes a Pennsylvania care facility, such as Parkhouse, to issue voter ID cards to any registered voter," Robinson said, adding that he believes the resolution is "in concert" with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court order of last week.

"It helps to assure that Montgomery County voters have liberal access to Voter ID cards. Second, a Commonwealth challenge to Parkhouse's right to issue voter ID cards would arguably be an attempt to impose stricter rules than are contemplated by the statute, a direct violation of the express mandate of the Supreme Court," Robinson said.

A State Department spokesperson told the Philadelphia Inquirer that it had no "immediate" plans to challenge the county's move, though Ron Ruman noted to the newspaper that the law's "clear intent" was to limit issuance of identification to people who had "direct connections" to the issuing institutions.

Asked whether the use of the Parkhouse in this capacity constituted a "loophole" in the Voter ID law, County Commissioner Josh Shapiro was equivocal. 

"I think you'd have to leave that to the [state] legislature, to determine what their intention was. All I can do is read the law, which clearly gives us the authority to issue IDs. We're going to do everything we can to ensure that every Montgomery County voter who is eligible to vote can vote," Shapiro said.

Additional locations beyond Upper Providence facility are likely

The resolution, which authorizes Parkhouse to issue voter identification cards to any registered voters who reside in the county, leaves open the possibility that other county properties could be set up as temporary annexes or extensions of the Parkhouse in order to facilitate the distribution of identification cards at other locations around the county.

"[Chief Operating Officer] Lauren [Lambrugo] and [Communications Director] Frank [Custer] are going to issue details shortly in terms of how we're going to implement it. We've got to work through the details in terms of the location or locations and all the other issues," Shapiro said.

"It is safe to assume Parkhouse will not be the only location," Custer said in an email message. Implementation of the program is scheduled to begin October 1.

The identification cards will only be issued to the county's registered voters, and will fulfill the state identification requirements at the polls, a release from the county said. However, if the resolution withstands any legal challenges, it will likely serve as an example for other counties to follow throughout the state.

Shapiro hailed the action in a statement distributed to the media at the Thursday night meeting.

"I continually hear from voters who are having trouble securing a proper ID card to vote," he said. "While my opposition to the Voter ID law is well-documented, I took an oath to uphold all the laws. Tonight's unanimous decision by our board simply ensures the rights of eligible Montgomery County voters."

Commissioner Leslie Richards, chair of the county's Election Board, also supported the resolution, as did commissioner Bruce Castor. Castor says that while he "is all about the law," he also believes the program is legal.

"The Pennsylvania Voter ID law permits this course of action, I believe we are following the law and making it as easy as possible to obtain voter ID," Castor said.

Cherie Baird September 21, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Well Played!
gerhard sweetman September 21, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Tell commissioners we are to busy protecting our apartments from home invasion/ searches/inspections by code enforcements. They know, but its to much money to stop. Down with the 4th admendment. Lets search ALL bedrooms & homes! The police like it also, it provides search venues. Vote-none of above should be OK
Laura Winslow September 21, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Hurray to you guys for finding the loophole! Hope it stands, or the law fails.
Bobbyf September 21, 2012 at 02:20 AM
What assurances will three be that those who come in for an ID are actually who they claim to be?
Laura Winslow September 21, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Bobby, voters have to sign their names and identify themselves already to vote in PA. Anyone who signs the voting record falsely is subject to arrest already. The ID is simply an additional step in place. And remember that most election sites are manned by neighbors who know the voters. If there is significant fraud happening, it's not by individual voters. Try asking yourself who supplies the voting machines and assures their accuracy. That's a better place to focus your concerns....
Roy Martin September 21, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Oh the Democrats love this! It's a better deal than all the dead people who vote in Philly each election.
Linda C DeSimone September 21, 2012 at 03:19 AM
This is awesome! Thank you Parkhouse!
Joseph Finnick September 21, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Yeah, because you know someone was able to organize hundreds of people to show up and vote under someone else's name. That's how that works, right? No? Oh, that's a shame that voter ID will do absolutely nothing to counteract real fraud while still costing a lot of money and making it more of a hassle to vote.
mark smerkanich September 21, 2012 at 11:05 AM
If this voter registration identification law is truly about preventing fraud then absentee ballots would be included. That's the area where fraud is most apt to occur. The timing of this bill, under a new Repub governor, forced through the system by Mike Turzai without much thought (remember his comment that PA would now go to Romney?) demonstrates it was done with political intent. Nothing to do with sanctity of voting.
Stop with the Taxes September 21, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Not sure why this is being played up as a loophole, it has been part of the law all along. If others leveraged the law instead of fighting it there would be no issue. But then those fighting the law don't want solutions they want to complain. I expect this to become part of the court case.
Judith Hall September 21, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Why is this any different than going to the DMV to get a picture ID?
Hammer September 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Way to go. Ya want a fight? Now you have one you miserable, bigoted, smug anti-American thugs. It's called the Voting RIGHTS Act, and ANYONE who tries to say this is about voter fraud - ZERO cases of in-person voter fraud have occurred in PA. This is about pulling out all the stops to ensure that an inferior candidate gets all the breaks and distractions from anyone who can give them to him on attempt to win an election. The same man who behind closed doors sneers and thumbs his nose at you. Vote for him if you want to but this party who claims to be all about freedom is doing their damnedest to ensure millions who would vote opposite their own point of view never even get a chance to pull that lever. Freedom? You have the audacity to call the President a Marxist and a Communist?? You may not like the candidates but here in AMERICA we guarantee all citizens the right to vote. It's in Communist countries where the right to vote is stifled or prohibited. Not here. Not in this country. So thank you commissioners, thank you to all those who would make this an election by the people. ALL the people.
Keith Best September 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
What those that claim Photo ID to vote disenfranchise's people are REALLY saying is some are too stupid to get a photo ID. They need to be called out on that.
victor September 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM
@hammer... you are a complete idiot! You one of those people to claim to be a Christian, yet you agree with the Communist pigs outlook on gay marriage and abortion, huh? I can not WAIT till this unamerican, unpatriotic, anti-God, anti-baby, anti-marriage, destruction to America slime ball gets booted from a position he should have never earned!!!! I wish I could see his face on November 6th, cause THEN he willrealize just how much he is not loved by AMERICANS. Give the power back to someone capable of restoring this country back to the way it was under our founding fathers law, not the law of the pigs!!! Romney/Ryan 2012!!!!!!!
victor September 21, 2012 at 03:46 PM
...btw, down in Germantown, all up and down the streets of the avenue, there is not ONE Republican representative at the polling places. I do believe fraud happens in these areas. How do I know this you may ask? I work in a senior subsidized housing building where there are 100 apartments and they hold their polling place on the bottom floor... Not ONE Republican representative here, ever and the election judges are too busy talking to people rather than ensuring fraud. I guarantee here in Philly, in these low income parts of the city, they will not ask for ID! These people are crooks and vote because of color. May sound racist, but its truth. Record number of BLACKS voted this past election, why?? Cause a BLACK Democrat was in the race! Now, who's the racist one?
Mike Shortall Sr September 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
It's not really any different. This will make it easier for some, but in the end MOST of those who need the ID simply won't bother going because they either aren't paying attention or don't really care all that much about voting. But you can bet that voters in Philly who show up without IDs will be waved right through to the voting booths anyway. Several Democrat polling officials and politicians have already stated they have no intent to uphold the law any way.
regnig September 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Can someone please explain to me what the big fat hairy deals is with getting an ID? How do these people who claim that it's an inconvenience to get an ID live in modern society? Do none of them drive? Do none of them travel? How difficult is it to get to the DMV to get a non-driver's photo ID? And don't give me the bull about how short the timeframe was - we've ALL known about this for at least six-eight months.
penllynjohn September 21, 2012 at 09:35 PM
As a Board Certified Geriatric Psychiatrist, enrolling new voters in nursing home and satellite facilities is praiseworthy as long as the places certify that the medical records show no doctor's diagnosis of dementia. The facility should also certify that the new enrollee US citizen has enough minimal command of English speech and written language to recognize voting instructions and the names who they might vote for.Republicans should see this is done now, before the election. In a close contest, in areas with the facilities mentioned above voting, the appeals courts should be able to subpoena all the medical charts or files and order standard dementia testing on cases suspected of slipping through and voting when they had an inadequate concept of what voting is.
Hammer September 21, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Victor...we have a record number of voters in your moronic comment above and you're complaining? It's why we HAVE the voting rights act. I don't care WHO is voted for, as long as people's right to vote isn't compromised. I may not agree with their opinion but in THIS country it's about what the majority of voters believe...and if YOU are so concerned that the majority of voters are non-white and will vote for someone whom YOU believe is inferior then PRODUCE A BETTER CANDIDATE. It's that simple. And where does Christian come into play? I'm not even Christian...not that it matters...and this has nothing to do with religion, or race or any protected class - it has to do with people you never knew nor cared about (evidently...given your post above) dying for the INALIENABLE right to vote in THIS country. Don't like it? Leave. And don't try to sell me your absolutely painfully pathetic bill of goods that this is about ANYTHING other than aiding Governor Romney to steal an election. Just ask Mike Turzai...or have you already forgotten: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuOT1bRYdK8
Hammer September 21, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Did you NOT vote for the President BECAUSE he's African American? I'm surprised you didn't substitute African American for some racial slur...or is that next? And - not that it matters, but I'm not African American either...I'm just an informed, intelligent voter who makes sure that non-informed, less-than-intelligent voters like yourself are kept in check. If you're a citizen of this country you have the RIGHT to have your voice heard in an election. Take that away, you're ensuring something more near and dear to YOUR heart is next. Enjoy your time with your head stuck in the sand, and make sure you pull your head out of the sand long enough to pull that lever in November with your head held high!
Laura Winslow September 22, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Regnig: Go visit a nursing home or a VA center and offer to help some of them get an id. Then go to a rural area and find the closest DMV and its hours of operation and offer to work the dayshift for a single mom. Now do it for a suburban single mom whose car just broke down. Life happens harsher to some people than others. And the DMV hours are not being expanded.
Cindy Tricoski September 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I was volunteering yesterday at the Berks Dems booth at the Oley Fair, and a young man who is a client of BCIU wanted to register very badly. He had a valid photo ID from BCIU, and from speaking with him, it was obvious he was very informed--probably more informed than many voters of any party--regarding issues in this election. We could not find any way to register him, because the BCIU ID could not be used as a valid ID. And yes, he would have had the same problem had he gone to register at the Republican booth. I know people who voted for Reagan back in the day because they liked his movies, and I am guessing there are many many people across the political spectrum who have always voted one way or the other for reasons that have nothing to do with the issues. Also, I remember years ago while I was working at Pennhurst, our residents were gven the right to vote. I remember one femaie resident returning to tell me she had voted for Harry Truman, even though old Harry was long gone not only from the presidential ballot, but from Earth as well. "penlynjohn" above notes stipulations, so the process must have changed since my Pennhurst days. But going over the Voter ID booklet, I saw nothing that would indicate that same female patient would not be able to vote for Harry again. Unfortunately, neither did I see anything that would make it easier for the young man from BCIU to get a valid ID.
B. Booey September 22, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Thank you Hammer for calling out these morons! They are just furious that their slimy voter disenfranchisement tactics are being circumvented. Scumbags.
gerhard sweetman September 23, 2012 at 04:05 PM
None of the above, should be on the ballot
A.S. September 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Hammer, just one question buddy...did you puff your chest out when you typed that? lol
regnig September 26, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Yes, the DMV hours are being expanded. With the exception of the people in nursing homes, you've just proved my point. DMV offices are open on Saturdays and nights. The single mom whose car broke down - does she have no family or friends? I'm am NOT part of your liberal "1%" - but I'm sick to death of everyone looking for a handout. I work hard for what I have, and I don't see anyone offering me a handout. And while I used the "liberal" term, this isn't about liberal or conservative or independent. This is about the "47%" getting off their duffs and doing for themselves instead of expecting someone else to do it for them.

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