Senate Passes Plan for Voter Verification Constitutional Amendment

HARRISBURG – The Senate this week approved a plan to allow voters to decide if the Pennsylvania Constitution should be amended to require identification each time a voter casts a ballot, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), who supported the measure.

Currently, voters are required to show identification the first time they vote at a polling place. Senate Bill 735 asks voters to decide if some form of verification should be required every time a ballot is cast, including when voting by mail. The bill also proposes amending the voting age in the Pennsylvania Constitution from 21 to 18, making it consistent the U.S. Constitution.

As far back as 2016, confidence in our voting system has been seriously eroded, including false claims of foreign countries tampering with vote tallies. A disorderly election process for the 2020 general election was followed by a messy 2021 primary election that only magnified the confusion and increased voter distrust.

A recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College found 74% of Pennsylvanians who responded favored requirements that all voters show a photo ID, compared with 25% opposed. Nationally, that number climbs to 80% in support of some sort of identification to vote and 18% opposed, according to a Monmouth University poll.

With Governor Wolf’s refusal to consider legislation that asks voters to provide verification every time they vote, the Senate passed a bill to place the issue on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment so voters can decide. Unlike a piece of legislation, constitutional amendments do not need the governor’s approval.

The language must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it can be placed on the ballot. The earliest this proposed amendment could reach voters for consideration is May 2023.

Forms of photo identification currently approved by the PA Department of State include:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
  • ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
  • ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

Voters without a photo ID, currently, can use a non-photo identification that includes name and address such as:  

  • Confirmation issued by the county voter registration office
  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Current paycheck
  • Government check
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