Activists in Pennsylvania aren’t waiting for the state Supreme Court to issue a decision on the new voter ID law, which was recently upheld by a lower court. They’re rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to put 1,000,000 new state-issued ID’s into the hands of voters.
Although there has never been a prosecution for voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and though the state estimates that 758,000 people lack the required identification, a Commonwealth Court concluded that no one would be disenfranchised by the law. The requirements of the law are for citizens to produce a social security number, a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, plus two items showing their name and current address. Those without the latter can bring someone to verify their residence.
The state projects that they will issue only a few thousand IDs before the election, but that doesn’t fit with the plans of the activists. While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments on the law on Thursday and could still overturn it, activists aren’t willing to waste time waiting for their decision. In Philadelphia alone, an estimated 200,000 citizens lack the necessary ID. An organization called The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is conducting a widespread information and transportation effort in Philadelphia and beyond to help people understand what they need and to get them to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to get the identification.
Other activists are self-appointed, out of concern for the integrity of the voting process. According to National Public Radio (NPR), one resident of a low-income senior housing complex has helped about 80 residents who no longer drive get their identification. Another woman, Audrey Traynham, provided information to a crowd outside of the DMV. She said, “I wasn’t recruited by anyone. I just feel like it’s my civic duty to make sure … everybody has their chance to vote.” What a pity when the courts don’t feel the same!