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Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: The Lawsuit

by: DocJess

Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:47:58 AM EDT

From the ACLU Press Release:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit today on behalf of ten Pennsylvania voters and three prominent advocacy organizations, alleging that the state's voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right - the right to vote. The plaintiffs are asking the Commonwealth Court to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the law before November's election. If the law is not overturned, most of the plaintiffs will be unable to cast ballots in the fall, despite the fact that many of them have voted regularly for decades.

You can see bios of the plaintiffs here. The lead plaintiff is Viviette Applewhite, pictured left. She's 93 and lives in Philadelphia. She had an ID card, but it was in her purse and the purse was stolen. This is her official bio:

Ms. Applewhite is an African-American woman born in 1919 in Philadelphia. Ms. Applewhite worked as a welder during World War II in the Sun Shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania. Ms. Applewhite married and raised a daughter who for decades worked for various federal, Pennsylvania, and municipal government agencies. Now a widow, Ms. Applewhite has lived in Philadelphia for more than twenty years and enjoys five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. She has voted in nearly every election since at least 1960. Ms. Applewhite marched to support civil rights for African-Americans with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Macon, Georgia, and traveled on several occasions to hear him preach in Atlanta's Ebeneezer Baptist Church. Ms. Applewhite does not have and has been unable to obtain photo identification required by Pennsylvania's voter photo ID law and thus after voting at nearly every election for more than 50 years will be unable to cast a ballot this November.

Special shout out to Marian Schneider, one of the lawyers at the Advancement Project, who has been working for fair and clean elections all the years I've known her. From the Advancement Project:

The lawsuit claims that the voter photo ID law imposes a severe burden on the fundamental right to vote in violation of Article I section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which states that, “Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” It also alleges that the ID requirement illegally adds a new qualification for voting. Article VII section 1 of the state constitution only requires that people be 18 years of age, U.S. citizens, and residents of Pennsylvania and their voting district.

Finally, the suit claims that the voter photo ID law irrationally distinguishes between in-person and absentee voters because the latter can vote without photo ID (just writing down the last four digits of the Social Security number). Pennsylvania allows people to vote absentee only if they can demonstrate an impossibility of getting to the polls on Election Day. While in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, there have been far more reports of absentee ballot fraud across the country, yet under Pennsylvania’s law this form of voting is exempt from the photo ID requirement.

Lawyers for the petitioners filed a motion for preliminary injunction with the court, asking for expedited discovery and a trial date in June in order to allow the Commonwealth Court to decide the case in sufficient time to permit the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the decision in advance of November’s election.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that THE LAW triumphs over the racism and cupidity that reigns amoungst the GOP in Harrisburg.

DocJess :: Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: The Lawsuit

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Voter ID is a bad solution to a non-existant problem (0.00 / 0)
From TPM:
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on voter fraud prosecutions stemming out of the 2008 election that "may signal a more significant voter fraud issue than some state lawmakers realized."

One problem: the type of voter fraud that allegedly took place - namely, felons voting when they shouldn't have been - wouldn't have been prevented by the proposed voter ID law....

The newspaper reports that a majority of the cases that they reviewed that resulted in arrests in central Virginia "involved felons who either illegally registered to vote or who illegally voted in the general election, or both." Virginia bans felons from voting unless their rights are restored by the Governor.

None of the cases, the newspaper said, "appeared to involve someone who misrepresented his or her identity at the polls to vote."

Could not obtain photo ID? (0.00 / 0)
Does anyone know why Ms. Applewhite tried but could not obtain a photo ID?

Likely reasons.... (0.00 / 0)
She may not be able to get her birth certificate because back when she was born they were housed at the hospital, not the state, and the hospital lost it/burned down/closed. Alternately, it may never have been filed with the state, so while she'd have a birth certificate, it wouldn't have a raised seal.

Without a birth certificate, you can't get a drivers license or DMV photo id. Unless you have a passport, which she very well may not have, and cannot currently get because she doesn't have a birth certificate.

PA doesn't accept things like baptismal certificates, so there's the problem.

When she originally got her ID, a birth certificate without a seal, or other forms of ID would have been enough as it was many years ago.  

[ Parent ]
voting absentee, not that easy (4.00 / 1)
I got an absentee ballot, only to find that in my state it requires the signatures of two witnesses or being notarized.  Try fulfilling that requirement when you're temporarily house bound out in the boonies.




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