Cast your ballot: For most voters today, proof of ID is not needed

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As if Pennsylvanians entering polling places today don't have enough to keep straight because of the saturation of dueling campaign pitches, they also need to sort through months of mixed messages about requirements for photo identification.

Let's be clear: Voters are not required to present identification today, with limited exceptions.

A controversial state law enacted earlier this year would have made current photo identification necessary, but its implementation has been put on hold for today's election, by order of state Commonwealth Court.

By the time that ruling was made, Pennsylvania's Department of State already had launched an advertising campaign intended to educate voters to the new requirements. After that decision, the state made the perplexing decision to proceed with the public service announcements anyway, tweaking the message only slightly to tell voters they'd be asked, but not required, to produce photo IDs.

There are these exceptions: First-time voters and voters casting a ballot for the first time at a polling place must provide an ID. It does not need to be a photo ID. Acceptable forms of identification for that group of voters include utility bills, tax bills, voter registration cards and other official correspondence containing the voter's name and address.

All other voters may choose whether they wish to provide ID at the polls, which will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Those who do not provide ID will be permitted to vote using a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.

Confusion over voter ID requirements should not keep anyone from voting today.



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