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Photo ID proved hard to get

October 3, 2012

William Roos is 91 years old. A World War II veteran, he is also wheelchair-ridden due to his weakened condition.
His family was among the first to settle in Honesdale and established a business employing hundreds of Honesdale residents. He has voted in every general election since 1941, mostly as a Democrat.

Yet, Roos was in danger of not having a photo ID in order to vote in this November election. Roos has many forms of identification but none that would have met the requirements of the now-blocked photo ID law.

“Bill is just the exact kind of person that this unjust law, fashioned by Pennsylvania Republicans, wants to stop from voting,” said his wife Paula. “They’re after the elderly, blacks, Hispanics, youths and other ethnic groups that generally vote Democrat.”

Last week, Roos and his wife drove all the way from Honesdale to Dunmore to the Department of Motor Vehicles Drivers License Center since they knew it was open daily, only to learn that the people who provided the photos were not in Dunmore but were back in Honesdale that day. Ironically, they had driven past the Honesdale center on their way to Dunmore.

In 2005, Roos surrendered his driver’s license because of his condition, trading it in for a non-driver ID card, which has since expired. Paula had a letter from the Wayne County Board of Elections that said her husband is entitled to a new free photo ID.

The letter specified that anyone holding an expired driver’s license would not be charged. The couple was told by a DMV employee that because Bill’s ID had expired, he would have to pay the standard $13.50 renewal fee.

Roos can afford the fee but refused to pay what Paula said amounted to a poll tax, which is unconstitutional. She and her husband left frustrated but even more determined to secure his right to vote.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Returning to the Honesdale DMV center, Paula said, “There were no signs that we could see directing people looking for a photo ID in order to vote. So, we stood in a long line for photo IDs for people seeking a license. After an hour when we reached our turn, we were told that we had to go to the other line to get the proper paper work.”

There, they waited about a half hour—Roos sitting in his wheelchair—and finally got the necessary photo ID card that the new law required before it was blocked.