By Gaetana Drake
Pennsylvania’s new voter ID laws will require many women to show two forms of identification in order to vote. Women whose names have changed due to being married now need to show a state-issued ID card (issued by the Department of Transportation) and a separate government-issued ID card or driver’s license (issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles).
Because of the centuries long tradition of women taking the last name of their husband when they marry, they are now forced to pay for two separate forms of identification just to vote. For low-income women, this is an additional financial burden to voting. Because the approved forms of identification come from two different state departments, women are now required to visit both of those departments to get the necessary identification.
One accepted form of ID comes from the Department of Transportation. In Pennsylvania, nine counties do not have an office for the Department of Transportation. In thirteen of their counties, the Department of Transportation office is only open one day a week. This will require women (many of whom are elderly and don’t drive) to travel to another county (on the correct day) in order to obtain their IDs.
Additionally, the state has 31,000 poll workers – who can chose to enforce the law at their discretion. It’s going to be chaotic in Pennsylvania on election day!
In addition to this latest restriction, consider this:
Viviette Applewhite is a 93 year old African American woman who was born 1919 in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love (not much brotherly love going on there right now)! She worked as a welder during WWII and raised a daughter who has worked for various government agencies. Ms. Applewhite marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has voted in every election for 50 years. She has been unable to obtain a photo ID required by Pennsylvania’s new law and will not be allowed to vote in November.
Wilola Lee, is a 59 year old African-American woman who was born in Wilkerson County, Georgia, a very rural area. She was raised by a grandmother who moved her to Philadelphia (again, the City of Brotherly Love) in 1957. She has lived there ever since. She raised two children, one of whom now works for the Pennsylvania state government. Ms. Lee worked for Philadelphia Public Schools for several years and has even been a poll worker in Philadelphia. For years she has been trying to get a birth certificate that she needs to get a photo ID. But the state of Georgia has told her that they have no record of her birth. After voting for over 30 years, she will be denied her right to vote this November.
Grover Freeland is a 72 year old African-American man born in Buffalo, New York. He is an Army veteran with an honorable discharge. He has not had a driver’s license since the 1980s. He has a photo ID known as a “veteran’s card” which contains coded sensitive information, such as his medical records. Unfortunately, the state of Pennsylvania does not consider this an acceptable form of identification. He has been unable to get a birth certificate from the state of New York. Come November, this veteran of America’s armed forces will be denied his right to vote.
Gloria Cuttino is a 61 year old African-American woman who was born in Summerville, South Carolina. She has lived in Philadelphia for decades and raised her children there. One of her children is a Philadelphia police officer. She has worked for years on behalf of local candidates for elected office. This is a woman who is very involved in our political process. She has been trying for over a year to get a birth certificate from South Carolina – who claims they have no record of her birth. A pro-bono attorney has determined that the only way she can get a “delayed” birth certificate is to seek census and other records, which will cost approximately $100, then employ an attorney in South Carolina to petition the court (additional expenses). It is unlikely that Ms. Cuttino will be allowed to vote in November.
Ms. Nadine Marsh is an 84 year old caucasion woman who was born in Pittsburgh in 1928. She was one of ten children whose father worked for Bethlehem Steel. She has never driven a car, so has no driver’s license. She and her family have tried for several years to get a birth certificate for her. They have gone in person to the Department of Vital Records, but have been told that her birth record does not exist. Ms. Marsh will be unable to vote in November.
Ms. Dorothy Barksdale is an 86 year old African-American woman who was born at home in Halifax County, Virginia in 1926. She, too, has never driven and has no approved ID. However, she was allowed to work as a poll official in Philadelphia where she has lived for many years. She has tried for three years to obtain a birth certificate from Virginia, but has been advised that they have no record of her birth.
There are thousands of other American citizens just like the ones mentioned here. Many of us don’t understand how someone couldn’t have the appropriate forms of identification. After all, you need identification to do almost anything these days. But my own grandparents probably couldn’t vote this year…my grandfather did not drive the last several years of his life and probably never had a birth certificate having been born in a rural county of Indiana. My grandmother never drove and was born in rural Tennessee. Millions of American citizens were born before detailed birth records were kept. That does not make them any less American than you or I.
I’d also like to point out that all of these people (and some organizations estimate that 5 million eligible voters will be turned away at the polls in November) have during their working lives, contributed state and federal taxes to our government. Now their government is denying them the right to vote.
We should all be ashamed of what is going on here in America. If the purpose is to prevent illegal aliens from voting, why are we preventing men who put their lives at risk for our rights and women who raised their children to be proud Americans from voting? It is shameful and un-American!