Say hello to Viviette Applewhite. Viviette is 93 years young. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In the sixties Viviette marched alongside Martin Luther King in Georgia. The first time she ever voted in a Presidential election it was for John F. Kennedy.
Viviette is upset with her government. She is mad as hell and she’s not going to take it.
No, it’s not Washington and the Feds that has raised Viviette’s dander. It’s the Pennsylvania state government in Harrisburg.
You see, the Republican dominated state legislature in Pennsylvania this year joined 10 other states that since the 2010 elections have adopted new voter ID laws. However, the one in Pennsylvania is regarded as one of the most restrictive.
Unlike Texas, Pennsylvania is not among a number of states covered by section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that require Federal prior approval of changes in voting laws because of a prior record of violations of voting rights.
Like advocates in those other states, and even here in Massachusetts, the battle cry centers on the need to prevent voter fraud. Advocates claim that such requirements are not onerous. Getting a photo ID is a simple matter and there is no reason why anyone should be without it.
Don’t tell that to Viviette. See, Viviette doesn’t drive – never has. So, to get an ID she has to present a birth certificate. But, ever since she had her purse stolen several years ago she hasn’t had a copy of her birth certificate. She did apply for a copy, she even paid the fee. But she still hasn’t got it. So, 93 year old Viviette Applewhite was facing not being able to vote for President for the first time since 1960.
So Viviette became the lead plaintiff in a suit represented by the ACLU going to trial in Pennsylvania beginning today with the goal of overturning the law. In the meantime the U.S. Department of Justice has also announced that it is planning legal action under section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The state’s justification for the law began to unravel when the Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House was caught on camera saying that passage of the new law would assure Mitt Romney’s victory in Pennsylvania this fall. It accelerated when the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office released data showing that 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania, of over 9% of the state’s registered voters, lacked DOT issued photo ID’s. This was in direct contradiction of statements made by the Secretary of State when the bill was being debated that the law would impact less than 1% of registered voters. The number impacted is greater than President Obama’s margin of victory in Pennsylvania in 2008.
So Viviette Applewhite will proudly march in to court today as she did 50 years ago in the streets of Georgia with Martin Luther King to assure that she and many others like her will not be cheated out of their vote.
In that effort she got some last minute help from an unexpected source. Yesterday the state of Pennsylvania filed a stipulation with the court. A stipulation is a legal document by a party to a dispute regarding matters of evidence. This stipulation by the state says in part there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”
It further states that Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue “that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.”
The document is reproduce below.
Good luck Viviette!