16 Aug


I was once a Legal Aid Attorney who helped those poorest among us, many of whom worked 2 part-time jobs and still were income eligible for our services because their income fell below the poverty line. Many of our clients were people of color;most were not. Most were first or second generation migrants to Ohio from West Virginia and Kentucky looking for a better life in the urban “north”. Many of my clients, African-American and white were born at home because they lacked health insurance and could not afford to buy it. Because they were born at home the only record of their birth might be their name entered in the family Bible. Some did not even have that. When I became Managing Attorney of the Senior Citizen Unit I often had to assist claimants for social security retirement who lacked the requisite birth certificate to prove their identity and age. We were able to provide the family Bible, or an affidavit from someone present at the birth as evidence. This was deemed sufficient proof. This effort took months, not days. Life lived in poverty means longer hours and more effort to accomplish what is easily done when one has sufficient income. Obstacles are everywhere and multiply in geometric progression for the poor,working poor, disabled and elderly.

Below is the link to the official Pennsylvania site for information on Voting ID requirements. It is too long and complex to include entire piece within this blog. Click to see what I mean. Notice it may take a person 2 visits to accomplish the task. While the cost for the ID may be waived when sought for voting purposes, the cost for substantiating documents is not waived, and they cost more than the photo ID does.( SEE full requirements at ) One might also need to bring a second resident to the location if they do have a mortgage, current dated rental lease, or utility bill; requiring the cost of transportation and scheduling coordination for two persons. Easy to get one of your children to go anywhere with you? What if you are a single working Mom and your children are too young to swear to the truth of your claim of residence? There is no one to affirm your residence.

How does one know where to go and what the hours of operation are? This,too is unclear and requires time to explore. What if the person in need of voter ID has no computer, nor access to one to get answers to such questions about the process.  Census data shows that 9.9% of Pennsylvanians do not speak English at home. Will they understand the complex instructions even if they are able to use a computer?(See more at ) Please note that the site stresses:

PennDOT Driver License and Photo License Centers only accept payment by check or money order. No cash or credit cards are accepted.

What if you do not have a checking account? What if you cannot convince a bank to provide you customer service  for a money order when you are not a customer? How much does a money order cost at a Pay-Day Loan ?

What if the person cannot travel by bus to the locations listed? Are cabs available and/or affordable? What if the person needing voter ID is disabled? Elderly? Blind? Nine locations in Pennsylvania have no such sites. Those which do are open 1 day a week.Pennsylvania has the fewest state workers in the nation. Who will be there to help move this process forward? (see Rachel Maddow 8-15-2012)

The judge in PA  found no discriminatory impact by the PA voter ID law even though evidence indicated more than half those affected are African-American. The African-American population of PA is only 11.3%, not more than 55%. Obviously, African-Americans are unfairly bearing the brunt of this law. 12.4% of all Pennsylvanians live below the poverty level. Per capita income is $27,049. ( see more at ) How can people with such income levels have time to take away from work and afford the cost of so doing? How?

The State’s attorneys who asked  Judge Simpson to refuse to block the voter ID law admitted “that they are ‘not aware of any incidents of in person voter fraud.’  Instead, they insisted that lawmakers properly exercised their latitude to make election-related laws when they chose to require voters to show widely available forms of photo identification.” Others argue that the same ID required to vote is required to buy beer. Really? Passports? Mortgage statements? Utility bills? One can buy a beer in numerous locations, even grocery stores. Voter Photo IDs are not so readily or easily available.(see more from Pennsylvania’s Republican viewpoint at )

The standard for an injunction is that the plaintiff  must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits [i.e., win at trial], that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest. Judge Simpson found no irreparable harm even though 15% of Pennsylvanians lack voter ID, and it seems unlikely they will be able to obtain it before the November election. This is about more than the November election however. This is about the losing the RIGHT to vote and replacing it with the PRIVILEGE of voting, if one can afford it. That seems to place the issue squarely in the public interest,and in violation of the constitutions of  Pennsylvania and the United States of America.

And the competing interest to protect against voter fraud ? The “Brennan Center’s exhaustive research revealed that there is little to no reliable evidence of impersonation fraud. And, of course, this form of fraud is the only misconduct that the new voter identification requirements in HB934 will address.” (see more )

Of course this case will be appealed and the Justice department may file further action to protect African-American voters’ denial of equal protection. The uncertainty lies in the time it will take to correct the problem. Time is of the essence;not because those likely to vote for the Democratic party candidates and President Obama are being disenfranchised, but because hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are being disenfranchised.


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