At age 93, Viviette Applewhite proudly lives on her own in a high-rise apartment just a few blocks from where she was born. A widow, she has never driven a car, but she has had many jobs, including work as a welder during World War II. She marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia. She cast her first vote for PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt. On election day four years ago, Applewhite went across the street to vote. “I was waiting there when they opened the door,” she said. “I didn’t vote for [Barack] Obamabecause he was black. I voted for him because he was a Democrat.” But her record of faithfully voting for Democrats will be more difficult to maintain, thanks to a strict voter identification law adopted this year by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature. Now she is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the new law.
Applewhite is among more than 186,000 registered voters who lack a valid driver’s license in this heavily Democratic city. Many of them are minorities. And to vote in Pennsylvania in November, they will need to produce a government-issued ID or driver’s license. That could have national implications. Obama almost certainly needs to win in Pennsylvania to be reelected, and political analysts say the Democrat cannot win the state without piling up large margins in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the two cities where the new voter ID rule would hit the hardest.