PHILADELPHIA — Four years ago as Viviette Applewhite, now 93, was making her way through her local Acme supermarket, her pocketbook hanging from her shoulder, a thief sliced the bag from its straps. A former hotel housekeeper, Ms. Applewhite, who never had a driver’s license, was suddenly without a Social Security card. Adopted and twice married, she had several name changes over the years, so obtaining new documents was complicated. As a result, with Pennsylvania now requiring a state-approved form of photo identification to vote, Ms. Applewhite, a supporter of President Obama, may be forced to sit out November’s election for the first time in decades. Incensed, and spurred on by liberal groups, Ms. Applewhite and others like her are suing the state in a closely watched case, one of a number of voter-identification suits across the country that could affect the participation of millions of voters in the presidential election. “They’re trying to stop black people from voting so Obama will not get re-elected,” Ms. Applewhite said as she sat in her modest one-bedroom apartment in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, reflecting a common sentiment among those who oppose the law. “That’s what this whole thing is about.”Thirty-three states have passed laws requiring identification for voting.Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said last week of the Texas statute, “We call those poll taxes,” a reference to fees that were once used in some Southern states to prevent blacks from voting. He said that while 8 percent of whites do not have the type of documentation that would be required by the Texas election law, the percentage among blacks is triple that.In a report .....found that obtaining proper voter identification in the affected states was difficult. More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office, and many of the offices maintain limited hours, the report said. Moreover, it said, despite pledges to make voter identification free, birth and marriage certificates, often needed for the process, cost $8 to $25, and many affected voters are poor.This month, the Pennsylvania Department of State estimated that 759,000 registered voters may be at risk of not having the required identification. It promised to send a letter to each one explaining what needed to be done.“Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008 by 600,000 votes,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which is leading the challenge to the law.
Legal Battles Erupt Over Tough Voter ID Laws
By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: July 19, 2012