. . . and now they’ve figured out how to keep her from voting: A “voter I.D. law” in Pennsylvania. Viviette Applewhite is suing to keep her right to vote.
On May 1, 2012, the ACLU 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 in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to overturn the voter ID law passed by the General Assembly in March 2012.
The lawsuit alleges 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.
Voter identification laws passed through several legislatures in the past half decade frequently cause more voters to lose their voting privileges than frauds prevented. While there is no evidence of significant voter fraud caused by someone stealing another’s identity to vote — the only voter fraud voter identification laws is aimed at — there are thousands, or tens of thousands of people in every state where these laws are passed who cannot get suitable identification papers to vote.
Although these citizens often are long-time voters, good citizen parents who have raised outstanding children and performed their civic duties thr0ughout their lives, they often lack the technically picky identity documents to get a voter identification card. Their stories are not unique, but surprisingly common, shared by millions of Americans:
- Many were born outside hospitals, and lack birth certificates. Though no one doubts their life history, the voter laws do not allow usual forms of identification to get a voter card. These people can get credit cards, can buy and sell property, and can cash checks in their towns. But the identification used to secure financial transactions do not satisfy the voter identification laws.
- A significant portion of these people are simply elderly, and gave up driving. Consequently they lack a current drivers license. Clearly they cannot get a new drivers license, but they also cannot get a voter identification card without great effort, sometimes without great cost, and almost always, in time to vote in this year’s elections.
- In Texas, the now-stayed-by-a-federal-court voter ID law allows a handgun license to be used as identification, but not a photo identification from a state college or university. Among other arguments the courts found convincing in staying the law, in 81 of Texas’s 254 counties, there is no office of any state agency that can issue an accepted voter identification card. In other words, in a third of Texas counties, it’s impossible to get a valid voter identification card if you don’t already have one.
- (Updated; see comments) Young people — students, soldiers at basic training, high school graduates still living at home to save money while working to make money — frequently cannot produce the documentation the voter identification laws ask for, like a utility bill in their name. See the story at Radula, where Dorid discusses one state’s rejecting another state’s birth certificates (as if we hadn’t known that would happen . . .) and other problems; young voters don’t vote as they should, and now we know many who want to vote, will probably be denied.
Meanwhile, from time to time a real case of voter fraud shows up. I have yet to find one that could have been prevented by voter identification laws.
How many of the voter identification laws were drafted in the smoke-filled, alcohol-laced backrooms of ALEC conferences?
- .pdf of Applewhite vs. Pennsylvania plaintiff’s complaint
- Motion for preliminary injunction in Applewhite vs. Pennsylvania
- Videos of name plaintiffs in the case
More (with help from Zemanta):
- Talking Points Memo covered this one, too
- Why We Fight: Because GOP Wants To Keep Viviette Applewhite from Voting (crooksandliars.com)
- This week in the War on Voting: Don’t mess with 93-year-old ladies in Pennsylvania (dailykos.com)
- 93-year-old woman will be lead plaintiff in case against voter ID (thegrio.com)
- ACLU, NAACP file suit against voter-ID law (wnd.com)
- New Legal Challenge to PA GOP’s Polling Place Photo ID Restriction Law Likely to Succeed (bradblog.com)
- “PA Voter ID Law Would Keep 93-Year-Old Who Marched With Martin Luther King From Voting” (pamhi.wordpress.com)
- ACLU sues Pennsylvania over voter ID law (pennlive.com)