Philadelphia resident Viviette Applewhite's 93 years of life has mirrored the turbulent history of 20th century. Growing up in the Jim Crow era, she worked as a welder during WWII and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, during the fight for civil rights. Mrs. Applewhite takes her civic responsibility seriously, having voted in almost every election since 1960, including in 2008 for the first African American president, something that had to be scarcely conceivable to her the first time she pulled the lever in the voting booth.
But Viviette Applewhite won't be voting in the 2012 election. Because Viviette Applewhite never learned to drive, and consequently, never possessed a driver's license. All other identification was lost when her purse was stolen years ago. She asked for a copy of her birth certificate to get another set of identification, only to find that officials have been unable to track it down. And the state of Pennsylvania will not allow her to vote without a driver's license or other officially-sanctioned picture i.d., thanks to draconian laws signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and designed by ALEC (.pdf). I'm sure that is comes as no surprise that Pennsylvania is considered one of the key battleground states in the upcoming election. Mrs. Applewhite, as an elderly African American Democratic Party member, hits the trifecta of demographics that this kind of legislation intends to prevent from voting. So Mrs. Applewhite is the perfect person to be the lead plaintiff suing against the Voter ID act:
Applewhite, who is 93 and uses a wheelchair, became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed here in state court by the ACLU and the NAACP challenging Pennsylvania's new law requiring voters to produce a driver's license or other photo identification before they are allowed to vote.[..]
The suit seeks to overturn what it calls a "draconian" law, a measure the plaintiffs and their lawyers contend will lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters - including Applewhite.
"It stinks," she said in a video prepared by the ACLU and aired Tuesday at a news conference in the Capitol. "They are taking our rights away."
The suit was filed in Commonwealth Court on behalf of 10 plaintiffs, among them three elderly women who say they cannot obtain necessary ID because they were born in the Jim Crow South, where states have no records of their births.
"What we're not talking about here is just any right, we're talking about the right to vote," Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said at the news conference. "Two hundred years ago, we actually fought a war for this right. This is an extremely important right."
This is why we fight, why we can never stop fighting. If Republicans cannot attract voters on the strength of their ideas (and I think there's a good argument that they really can't) then they're going prevent people from voting on the other side.