Voter ID odyssey by Pa. woman, 105, triggers change

HARRISBURG - August 31, 2012

PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said supervisors will be informing staff about the new process, developed two days after Alice Carlson ran into trouble getting identification because of her age.

Carlson showed up at a PennDOT licensing center in Snydersville on Wednesday, but the computer would not recognize an age above 104, the Pocono Record reported. Instead, it wanted to record her as being 6 years old.

"I guess they don't really expect 105-year-old folks to come in for an ID," said state Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, who accompanied Carlson to get the photo ID, which will be mandatory for voters in Pennsylvania starting with the Nov. 6 election.

Scavello, a supporter of the voter ID law, has offered to drive anyone who needs one to the licensing center. So far, about six people have taken him up on it.

After an hour and a half, PennDOT used a work-around to get an official ID into the hands of Carlson, a lifelong Democrat who first voted for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Reached at her home in Canadensis on Friday, Carlson declined to comment.

The Pocono Record described her as a former employee of the New York City schools who moved to the Poconos, her longtime vacation spot, after the death of her husband. Scavello said she drove until about two years ago, when she moved to Pennsylvania.

The newspaper said Carlson appeared annoyed as she had to wait while supervisors worked out a way to get her the required identification, and when reporters - alerted by Scavello - surrounded her outside.

"I am going to hit somebody," she told reporters.

Afterward, Scavello bought her lunch at a restaurant in nearby Tannersville.

"What a bright lady, I'll tell you," Scavello said. "She's one in a million."

McKnight said PennDOT will be using a paper-based process for voters 105 and older, at least until it can figure out how to fix the computer system code so that it will permit ages above 104.

Pennsylvania's voter ID law, passed by Republicans without Democratic support and signed by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, has been upheld by a state appeals court, but that ruling will be the subject of a Sept. 13 state Supreme Court hearing in Philadelphia.

Supporters say the law is needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents counter that examples of fraud are rare or nonexistent and the law's real aim is to drive down votes by groups that lean Democratic, such as the poor and young people. Courts are reviewing similar laws in other states ahead of the presidential election.


Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.