Voting Blogs: An Extended Vacation for Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law | State of Elections

On August 16, 2013, Pennsylvania Judge Bernard McGinley issued a preliminary injunction to block Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law from affecting Pennsylvania elections in November. This preliminary injunction was the result of a lawsuit, Applewhite v. Commonwealth. Though the trial concluded on July 31, 2013, the judge is still deliberating on whether a permanent injunction is appropriate. However, the preliminary injunction made it clear that Pennsylvania voters will not be required to show poll workers photo identification in order to vote in the 2013 November general election. The  injunction also restricted the voter ID law’s “soft rollout” features. These features would have required poll workers to inform voters that they would need photo ID to vote in the next election. The judge’s recent preliminary injunction does away with this requirement. Poll workers may still ask to see photo ID, but the voters still do not have to produce it in order to vote.

National: Challenges to Voting Laws May Play Havoc On and After Election Day | Roll Call

Democratic Rep. Mark Critz’s chances of hanging onto his seat representing Southwestern Pennsylvania could hinge on a lawsuit filed by a 93-year-old great grandmother over the state’s new voter identification law.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is hearing Viviette Applewhite’s appeal today so it can decide whether the recently enacted statute is so burdensome on some citizens that it violates Pennsylvania’s constitution. Like other lawsuits across the country, it pits Republicans concerned about voter fraud against Democrats worried about voter suppression. The outcome could affect turnout on Election Day and spawn legal challenges afterward.

Pennsylvania: PennDOT’s ‘Unwritten Exceptions’ Allow Lead Voter ID Plaintiff To Get ID | CBS

The lead plaintiff in the voter ID case got a photo ID last week, just one day after Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to block the voter ID law.  PennDOT said they gave Viviette Applewhite, 93, a non-driver photo ID even though she did not have the required Social Security card, because she fell within one of the agency’s unwritten exceptions.  So what are these exceptions?  And who can qualify? Applewhite said she took her raised-seal birth certificate and other government correspondence with her to PennDOT last Thursday when she got her ID. “I took about 10 or 15 documents with me and that lady sat there and read every one of them,” she said.  Even though she had no social security card, her Medicare information did the trick. “I was so glad, I didn’t know what to do,” said Applewhite.  She said she’s tried several times to get an ID after her purse was stolen eight years ago, but was unsuccessful.

National: U.S. voting rights under siege | CNN.com

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old African-American woman from Philadelphia, suddenly cannot vote. Although she once marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the right to do so, and has dutifully cast a ballot for five decades, in this election year she may be denied this basic right. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Applewhite is no longer considered eligible. The Pennsylvania law requires that citizens present a state-issued photo ID card before voting, which, in Applewhite’s case, required that she first produce a birth certificate. After much trying, and with the help of a pro bono attorney, she was finally able to obtain her birth certificate — but on it, she is identified by her birth name Brooks, while her other forms of identification have her as Applewhite, the name she took after adoption. Because her 1950s adoption papers are lost in an office in Mississippi, and the state is unable to track them down, Applewhite still can’t get a Pennsylvania photo ID. She is therefore barred from voting in the November elections. Such stringent obstacles, particularly for African-Americans, were not so long ago the accepted rule. Despite the 15th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which extended the vote to black men and all women, respectively, election officials used poll taxes, literacy tests and other methods to deny this legal right. Then came the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Voting Blogs: Viviette Applewhite Voter ID Case: Bring on the Poll Taxes and Literacy Tests | Politics 365

The trial over Pistolvania’s voter identification law (a law someone brilliantly described as “a bad solution looking for a problem”) continues in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I would say that it’s not going to end up well for the state, but you never know with these Commonwealth Court Judges. This is what Judge Simpson said: “This is a high-profile case. There’s a lot of anxiety here,” he said. “There will be a lot of people very unhappy with my decision no matter what I do.” But, he said, “take heart,” because the case will likely go to higher courts before it is over. Oh ohh. Anyway, I don’t want to get into a lot of legalese, but the state has to show a compelling state interest if this law is to be upheld. This is the type of scrutiny that is applied to laws such as this that deals with voting rights.

Editorials: Voter ID law could backfire on GOP | Emily Bazelon/Newsday

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes on trial this week. The first thing this challenge to the state’s law has going for it are the real people who will testify about why it means they can’t vote. The second thing is the Pennsylvania constitution. And the third is the utter lack of legitimate justification for the burdens the law imposes. This law should go down, and now, before it can cause problems in November. But if you’re a Democrat worried that the law — which requires voters to show an approved form of photo ID at the polls — is going to cost President Barack Obama the election, there’s a possible silver lining. The number of voters affected may not be as huge, or as overwhelmingly Democratic, as it seems. Let’s start with the trial. The Talking Points Memo website and The New York Times have introduced us to 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and 60-year-old Wilola Shinholster Lee. Applewhite has never had a driver’s license, lost her Social Security card when her purse was stolen, and can’t easily get a new one because she has changed her name twice to marry. Lee — who was born in Georgia but has lived in Pennsylvania since she was 5 years old — lost her birth certificate in a house fire and she can’t get another one. (According to the state of Georgia, her original birth certificate was lost in a fire there, too.)

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s voter ID law: Bad for both parties? | Slate Magazine

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes on trial today. The first thing this challenge to the state’s law has going for it are the real people who will testify about why it means they can’t vote. The second thing is the Pennsylvania constitution. And the third is the utter lack of legitimate justification for the burdens the law imposes. This law should go down, and now, before it can cause problems in November. But if you’re a Democrat worried that the law—which requires voters to show an approved form of photo ID at the polls—is going to cost President Obama the election, there’s a possible silver lining here. The number of voters affected may not be as huge, or as overwhelmingly Democratic, as it seems. Let’s start with the trial. Talking Points Memo and the New York Times have introduced us to 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and 60-year-old Wilola Shinholster Lee. Applewhite has never had a driver’s license, lost her Social Security card when her purse was stolen, and can’t easily get a new one because she has changed her name twice to marry. Lee—who was born in Georgia but has lived in Pennsylvania since she was 5 years old—lost her birth certificate in a house fire and she can’t get another one. (According to the state of Georgia, her original birth certificate was lost in a fire there, too.) Thanks to smart P.R. by the ACLU and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which represent the plaintiffs, you canread or see these women and other affected voters.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law Goes to Court | The Nation

Tomorrow the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law from the ACLU and other voting rights groups. The lead plaintiff is Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old great-great grandmother who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite worked as a hotel housekeeper and never had a driver’s license. Four years ago, her purse was stolen and she lost her Social Security card. Because she was adopted and married twice, she cannot obtain the documents needed to comply with the state’s voter ID law. After voting in every election for the past fifty years, she will lose the right to vote this November. The ACLU will argue that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law needlessly disenfranchises voters like Applewhite and violates Article I, Section 5, of the state constitution, which states: “Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” As in Wisconsin, where two federal judges have blocked that state’s voter ID law, the Pennsylvania Constitution affords strong protections to the right to vote. (The Justice Department is also investigating whether the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.)

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial: State Admits There’s No In-Person Voter Fraud | TPM

As the Justice Department investigates Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on the federal level, a coalition of civil rights groups is gearing up for a state trial starting Wednesday examining whether the law is allowable under Pennsylvania’s constitution. In that case, Pennsylvania might have handed those groups and their clients (including 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite) a bit of an advantage: They’ve formally acknowledged that there’s been no reported in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and there isn’t likely to be in November. The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

National: How a great-great-granny could settle the voter ID issue | Yahoo! News

State laws requiring identification cards for voters have raised big issues that will carry into fall election season, as three key rulings are expected at the same time the presidential election heats up. And in one case that has Supreme Court ramifications, it might be a great-great-grandmother’s testimony that could settle the voter ID issue in a key swing state. Viviette Applewhite, 93, is the lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania, in a case that could have long-term implications for stricter voter ID laws. Currently, there are pitched battles in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas over photo IDs as a requirement to vote. The issue will get a lot of attention as state court rulings are issued later this summer in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The Texas case was heard by the District of Columbia federal appeals court and a ruling there is also expected by Labor Day.

Editorials: Tougher Voter ID Laws Set Off Court Battles | NYTimes.com

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.

Pennsylvania: State’s strict voter ID law faces ACLU lawsuit | latimes.com

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.

Voting Blogs: New Legal Challenge to Pennsylvania GOP’s Polling Place Photo ID Restriction Law Likely to Succeed | BradBlog

92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP’s new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a…

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law Would Keep 93-Year-Old Who Marched With Martin Luther King From Voting | TPM

If there’s a contest for most sympathetic plaintiff in a lawsuit opposing a state voter ID law, Pennsylvania’s Viviette Applewhite wins. The 93-year-old has voted in almost every election since 1960. Her daughter was a public servant. She has five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. She’s a widow. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Macon, Georgia during the civil rights movement and traveled to Atlanta to hear him preach. Under Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, Applewhite wouldn’t be able to vote. Applewhite is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) and the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP on behalf of ten Pennsylvania voters.

Pennsylvania: Lawsuit seeks to overturn Pennsylvania voter ID law | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The debate over Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is heading from the state House to the courthouse. Groups opposed to requiring photo identification at the polls plan to file a lawsuit today in Commonwealth Court seeking to prevent the law from taking full effect at the November elections. The lawsuit will name about 10 people who lack the documents needed to obtain an acceptable form of identification, said three attorneys involved in the suit. While voters were asked for photo identification at the primary elections last week, they were allowed to vote without it. Starting in November, they will have to show a photo ID issued by the state or federal government or a Pennsylvania college, nursing home or county or municipal employer.