93-year-old woman suing Pennsylvania over voter ID law

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 9:39 EDT
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Viviette Applewhite via the ACLU
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Viviette Applewhite, like many elderly Americans, does hot have a birth certificate or a driver’s license. The 93-year-old grandmother is suing the state of Pennsylvania over its harsh new voter ID law, according to Think Progress.

Applewhite said she has voted in every election since she voted for John F. Kennedy in 1962, but this year, Pennsylvania’s harsh new voter ID law means that she and the others who have no government issued photo ID will be unable to cast a ballot this fall. She has been named as the plaintiff in a suit brought against the state by the NAACP and the ACLU.

Ms. Applewhite has tried for years to obtain a photo ID, but to no avail. NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 25 percent of black adults have no form of state-issued photo ID, as opposed to only eight percent of white adults.

Pennsylvania’s law is similar to stringent voter ID laws passed in Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Twenty-four other states are currently attempting to pass voter ID laws, which have been shown to disproportionately affect poor and minority voters. Former President Bill Clinton said of the current Republican push for voter ID laws, “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”

Republican legislators insist that these laws are necessary to prevent vote fraud, but a Supreme Court decision from 2007 upholding Indiana’s law was only able to unearth one case of in-person vote fraud in the last 143 years. Nonetheless, the Brennan Center estimates that 5 million eligible U.S. voters will be kept from the polls this fall by the new laws, a larger number than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

Watch video of Ms. Applewhite discussing her suit against the state of Pennsylvania, embedded via the ACLU, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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