A new law recently put in place allows Pennsylvania students to vote using their university ID. The law, which now requires Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification when they arrive at the polls, allows university IDs provided they have an expiration date. While Bucknell University IDs currently do not have expiration dates, the administration is implementing two solutions.
Starting in September, the University will begin distributing stickers with expiration dates (an option the law allows for), so that students can use their current University ID. In addition, next year all University IDs could have expiration dates printed on them to enable future compliance with the law.
For many students, this isn’t much of a big deal.
“I’m not old enough to vote yet, so this doesn’t mean too much to me,” Mark Stafurik ’16 said.
Justin Meshulam ’15 said students could just use their current drivers’ licenses. However, this would force students from other states to fill out absentee ballots rather than be able to vote at Pennsylvania polls.
John Powell ’15 thinks the new law and the University’s efforts will make voting easier. “Using my Bucknell ID? That sounds convenient!” Powell said.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first law of its kind to be put on the books. Georgia controversially enacted a similar law several years ago, and in 2011 seven states either passed new voter ID laws or made current laws stricter. These laws have come under scrutiny since some of these are poised to be key battleground states in the coming election, becoming targets of political sniping that has brought both the constitutionality and the political effects of these laws into the limelight.
While the law was intended to cut down on potential voter fraud, critics question the need for having to show an ID in order to exercise a constitutional right. They also point out that those who are least likely to possess a photo ID but would otherwise be capable of voting are groups such as minorities, people in lower-income brackets and youth; groups which tend to swing Democratic in elections. A common worry is that under these laws, enough people will be prevented from voting so as to sway the results of the election in some counties (or even states). Supporters of the law claim these critiques are overblown, and preventing voter fraud is a far more important concern to deal wit. Official arguments will be brought in front of the state Supreme Court on Sept. 13 in an attempt to settle the matter.