Exact match not necessary on voter ID
By Jeremy Boren
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, 10:38 p.m.
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012
Every Tom, Dick and Harry registered to vote will be able to cast a ballot in November even if the names on their IDs are Thomas, Richard and Harold.
“It doesn't have to be an exact match,” said Larry Spahr, director of the Washington County election office. “Larry is an accepted derivation of Lawrence, like Jim and James and Bill and William.”
Some Democrats who oppose Pennsylvania's voter identification law contend they could be barred from voting — even if they're one of the candidates — because their first names differ slightly between their driver's licenses and voter registration documents.
Democrat Larry Maggi, 61, of Buffalo Township is running against U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, 59, R-Upper St. Clair.
Maggi created the “Let Larry Vote!” website on Thursday. It offers visitors the opportunity to sign a petition opposing the ID law and to donate money to Maggi's campaign.
It explains that he received a letter from the state informing him he is registered to vote as “Larry Maggi,” but his driver's license reads “Lawrence Owen Maggi.” On the site, he says the difference could be enough for the GOP to challenge and deny him his right to vote.
About 760,000 Pennsylvania voters received similar letters when the Department of State compared voter lists with databases from PennDOT, which issues driver's licenses, the main form of acceptable photo ID. Officials have said the letters were intended to warn people who potentially do not have proper ID. The law says names on voter registration and ID must “substantially conform.”
In a phone interview on Friday, Maggi acknowledged that he expects to be able to vote on Nov. 6 without incident. He has been a registered voter for more than 30 years, and he knows many of the people who work in his polling place inside the Buffalo Township Municipal Hall.
Maggi said he showed poll workers his license when he voted in the May primary. No one questioned the name difference. He expects the same treatment now.
Poll workers could ask to see identification in the primary, but voters weren't required to present it. The requirement takes effect with the November election.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or email@example.com.
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