By Barry Schoch
Since Pennsylvania's new voter-identification law went into effect, there has been much speculation about how the state Department of Transportation would handle any additional demand for photo IDs. PennDot remains committed to offering all customers the best service possible as the election approaches, particularly given the recent Commonwealth Court decision upholding the voter-ID law.
Every year, PennDot serves about 2.4 million customers at our 71 driver-licensing centers. Last year, more than 88 percent of those customers were served in 30 minutes or less.
While some have predicted that the voter-ID law would prompt a major influx of Pennsylvanians seeking IDs, as of last week, we had not seen any significant increase. In fact, since the law was enacted, fewer than 5,000 free IDs have been requested and issued. One of the changes associated with the new law, which creates an alternative birth certification process, has been invoked by only 92 individuals since May.
In any case, PennDot's dedicated professionals have been fully briefed and are ready to serve. We have long-standing procedures in place that allow us to quickly respond to driver-licensing changes that may come into play as a result of federal or state law. So we can quickly inform our supervisors and frontline employees of revisions like those in the voter-ID law.
Moreover, as of Monday, another form of identification is available to voters who don't qualify for a secure PennDot driver's license or ID card. We have begun issuing a new Department of State voter-identification card, working with that department to verify that customers are registered to vote. Even with this change, driver-licensing center operations are expected to remain largely the same.
Customer service has always been part of the fabric of PennDot, and it is our standard practice to quickly address any issues affecting it. We work with our customers to resolve issues quickly. That's one reason our surveys show very high levels of customer satisfaction.
We invite Pennsylvanians to help us make their process of getting a driver's license, PennDot identification card, or Department of State identification card a smooth one. To ensure that they have all the necessary documents, they can contact our call center or visit our website, which includes information on how to apply for a driver's license or identification card, as well as the locations and hours of licensing centers.
PennDot will continue to provide the best possible service to all customers seeking identification cards, and we will also continue to monitor demand and make any adjustments needed to maintain that service.