Pennsylvania’s voter ID law went on trial on Wednesday, July 25 to challenge the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. Pennsylvania signed a stipulation before the trial began agreeing that no voter fraud exists in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in the country to justify the need for photo ID laws. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania is standing its ground on the need for voter ID.
The only fraud being committed is not voter fraud but fraud on the American people by the GOP. One Pennsylvania state law maker, Mike Turzai, broke ground when he also admitted the law is needed to give Mitt Romney the win in November. While Republicans say the need for voter ID is only common sense. The trial and issue is whether the laws are constitutional and not common sense. Even if the laws were based on common sense, they would still fail. It makes no common sense for them.
The U.S. constitution states that the right to vote shall not be denied due to race or gender. And yet, these new voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and other states do exactly disenfranchise black, Hispanic and women voters, particularly those living in urban areas. Three named plaintiffs have different experiences with the same result which will disenfranchise them under the new voter ID law. One plaintiff is unable to obtain her birth certificate in Georgia. Georgia has no record of Wiola Lee who was born 60 years ago.
The most known plaintiff is Vivian Applewhite, 93 who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and has been voting in every election ever since she was able to vote. After fighting for the right to vote in 1960, she may be now unable to vote again this year. She is not able to get the birth certificate for her name since she was adopted early in life. The last name issue is one that is particularly an issue with women who have recently divorced or married and need ID. Then there’s Anna Gomez, 63, who came to the U.S. at an early age and does not seem able to get her birth certificate from Puerto Rico. All of these Pennsylvanian residents have voted regularly in elections but will be denied the right to vote, if the law is upheld. Although my own mother did not live in Pennsylvania. She for many years was also unable to obtain her birth certificate from a small rural town in North Carolina where she was born. It is not as uncommon as some people think.
It is so disheartening and ironic that it is easier to legally buy assault rifles and injure 70 persons than it is to vote in these voter ID states. It was easier for the suspect in the Aurora shootings to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition along with the assault rifle than it may have been for him to vote, if he lived in Pennsylvania. And it’s definitely easier to fly than to vote in Pennsylvania. Flying on an airplane isn’t even covered by the U.S. constitution. It’s a privilege and not a right like voting. Republicans own data has never shown a need for voter ID laws. That didn’t stop over half of the states from enacting voter ID laws with 14 states having the most strictest forms.
Today’s Philadelphia newspaper reported that statistics show that over 1.5 million people or 20% of Pennsylvania voters may not be able to vote in November due to the new voter ID laws. That’s a staggering amount of voters. And with their being no proven reason for the ID, it seems the court should have an easy time deciding the case. But nothing has been easy this year when it comes to fighting these oppressive and suppressive laws. No matter which way the judge decides, the case will probably head to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And the Department of Justice still has an investigation into Pennsylvania voter ID laws on federal grounds.
The trial is expected to last until Monday. The judge is expected to rule by August 13. As we approach 100 days before the election, we still don’t have the answers as to who will be able to vote. And that’s the biggest fraud. Updates will be provided as the trial continues.
Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center.