This Week in the War on Voting: The 'Rosa Parks of Voter ID' in PA


That's an ad produced for Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, trying to make the new voter ID laws seem like the last step in the long march toward universal enfranchisement in the United States. It probably won't suprise you to know who created the ad.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has signed a $249,660 contract with a company run by Mitt Romney fundraiser, former state GOP party executive director, pharmaceutical lobbyist, and school voucher advocate Chris Bravacos to direct a media campaign promoting the state's Voter ID law.

Yes, that very same law, requiring that voters present identification at the polls, which critics contend will suppress Democratic-leaning non-white, poor, elderly and youth voters and which House Majority Leader Mike Turzai recently boasted (video) is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

It's also the law that, if it stands, will disenfranchise more than three quarters of a million Pennsylvania voters if it passes muster in the courts this month. That's one out of eleven Pennsylvanians, and in the city of Philadelphia, that’s closer to one in five. But, that's if the law stands.

It's currently being challenged, and the Christian Science Monitor has an excellent story on 93-year old Viviette Applewhite—the "Rosa Parks of voter ID"—who along with the ACLU is leading that challenge.

What makes the Pennsylvania case special is that it relies on a volume of voter qualification evidence not present in the definitive 2008 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Indiana’s strict voter ID photo requirements by a 6-3 vote.

In the Indiana case, Justice John Paul Stevens, a traditional defender of civil rights, sided with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority because he found no evidence that Indiana’s photo-ID requirement imposed “excessively burdensome requirements.”

The carefully prepared Pennsylvania case suffers no such evidentiary lack. It has a series of plaintiffs, led by Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old black woman, who worked as a welder in World War II and later marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.

The difficulties, delays, and expenses that Ms. Applewhite and the other parties to her suit have experienced are documented in the lengthy brief submitted to the court. [...] Applewhite, who lacks a driver’s license but has consistently voted since the 1960s, has, for example, made three tries to get her birth certificate from Pennsylvania’s Division of Public Records. At the time the suit bearing her name was filed, she still did not have her birth certificate, despite paying the required fee.

This case could very well end up going to the Supreme Court, and could very well end up being the key to stopping the flood of latter-day poll taxes Republicans across the country are enforcing.

If you haven't yet thanked Mrs. Applewhite for taking such a brave stand against voter suppression, please sign on.

For more of this week's news, make the jump below the fold.

Daily Kos / By Joan McCarter | Sourced from

Posted at July 14, 2012, 5:46am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018