Harris-Perry: Pennsylvania law ‘a tax’ on women voters

By Arturo Garcia
Saturday, September 22, 2012 21:40 EDT
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Pennsylvania’s married or divorced women voters will have a harder time making it to the polls, Melissa Harris-Perry said on her show Saturday.

According to the state’s controversial voter identification law, women who have changed their last name must present two forms of identification — the state voter ID issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and a separate government-issued ID or driver’s license. By comparison, male voters only need the former.

“There’s officially a tax on being a woman in Pennsylvania if you want to vote,” Harris-Perry said.

Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court ordered that the law be reviewed, with a ruling of the availability of the PennDot documents due by Oct. 2. The lead plaintiff in the case contesting the law, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, was recently granted a state ID even though the law still stands.

Harris-Perry also mentioned a study (PDF) by the Brennan Center for Justice that found that as many as 34 percent of eligible women voters across the country lack documents with their current legal name, meaning that as many as 32 million women in states with similar identification laws might have trouble casting their vote.

Adding to the potential for trouble in Pennsylvania, said The Nation‘s Ari Berman, is the fact that each of the state’s 31,000 individual poll-workers can enforce the law at their discretion.

“We’re talking about, at the very least, a lot of chaos on election day,” Berman said.

Watch Harris-Perry and her panel discuss the law on Saturday’s episode of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show below.

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Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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