Chanting “Don’t Block My Vote,” hundreds of Pennsylvanians protested the state’s new voter ID law by at a midday rally near Independence Mall in Center City Philadelphia. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) sponsored the event.
“The rally was our way to get the word out about the new voter ID law,” said Angela Foreshaw, spokesperson for AARP. “Many seniors may not have the approved photo ID by PennDot, and we don’t want them to be turned away this November. AARP is continuing to fight for the rights of everyone, including our seniors. We are currently fighting to get the law overturned, but if the law isn’t overturned we will make sure all of our members will have the information that they need to have the appropriate ID.”
As many as 750,000 individuals statewide could have trouble voting this fall because they don’t have a current PennDOT photo ID, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
“This law will effect everyone, especially senior citizens,” said E. Steven Collins, director of eternal relations and Urban Marketing/Radio One and the rally’s master of ceremonies. “My 92-year-old mother still lives in West Philadelphia, and she does not have a birth certificate or driver’s license. Her right to vote should not be taken away, especially if she is unable to provide a birth certificate or driver’s license.”
In Pennsylvania in 2008, voters aged 50 to 64 voted for President Barack Obama, favoring him 57 percent to 42 percent over GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. Voters 65 and older were evenly split, with 49 percent voting for Obama and 50 percent for McCain, according to exit polls.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat. It is about having the right to vote either way,” said AARP member Charlene Williams. “People have been voting for years without any type of identification, so this new law puts people’s voting rights in jeopardy. A lot of people, both young and old, have been misinformed about the voter ID law, but the only way to address this issue is to get the word out about it.”
On May 1, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold and Porter LLP filed a lawsuit 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 right to vote.
A brief was also filed Wednesday in Commonwealth Court by nine senior advocacy organizations supporting a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania new Voter ID law. Both cases are scheduled for trial on July 25 in Harrisburg.
“This law deprives many eligible voters in the commonwealth — disproportionately the poor, minorities, senior citizens, young voters and people with disabilities — of their fundamental right to vote,” said Marian K. Schneider of the Advancement project, one of the lead attorneys of the voter ID legal team. “If this law is allowed to stand, it will disenfranchise thousands of voters in Pennsylvania who cannot overcome the law’s many hurdles and will undermine the basic fabric of our democracy.”