| News |

Pennsylvania: A Glimpse of Texas' Future if Voter ID Law is Implemented

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

While Texas awaits a panel of judges' decision as to whether a voter I.D. requirement would disenfranchise minorities, Pennsylvania provides a peek into the issues that arise after such a law is put in place.

In the lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the state argues that such a law would prevent voter fraud while the DOJ claims it would disproportionately prevent minorities from voting. After last week's back-and-forth testimony from both sides, the panel of three federal judges could take weeks or months to review the case, meaning it's a mystery as to whether the law, if permitted, could be applied in time for the November election.

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania passed a similar law requiring voters to prevent identification, and now the state is facing legal backlash and public relations snafus because of the decision.

Last month, a Pennsylvania Republican leader made a remark that momentarily cast doubt on the repeated assertion that the voter ID law is intended to preserve the integrity of elections by preventing fraud.

"Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," he said, according to a report on PoliticsPA.com, as quoted in the New York Times. His spokesman did damage-control, telling the Times that his comment was meant to show that combating voter fraud was important to "level the playing field" in November.

Another recent Times article documents a few people who feel that the playing field for voters has been skewed against minorities, rather than leveled for candidates, and several are part of a lawsuit against the state to drive home their point.

Vivette Applewhite, a 93-year-old Obama supporter, had her purse snatched four years ago. The former hotel housekeeper never had a driver's license, and her social security card was stolen with the purse. Her name had changed several times as she was adopted and married twice, complicating the process of obtaining identification. Now, she may not be able to vote for the president in November's election.

Wilola Shinholster Lee, a 60-year-old born in Georgia, lost her birth certificate in a house fire. Georgia officials told her they too had lost records of her birth in a fire. Lee told the Times she came to Pennsylvania as a child with her grandmother, who is now 98, loves Obama and does not have a photo ID. Lee has a Social Security card and an employee ID from her employment with the Philadelphia Board of Education, but that's unlikely to be enough to vote in Pennsylvania in November.

The American Civil Liberities Union of Pennsylvania is spearheading the case against the new ID law, and will be putting Lee and others with similar stories on the stand at a trial that begins this month in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania was able to implement the law without the federal approval required of Texas and other Southern states with a history of discriminatory voting practices under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

With that, we're left waiting for the courts' decision as to whether Texas will follow in Pennsylvania's footsteps or not. And it's safe to assume the debate will continue for months thereafter.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.