In her 93 years, Philadelphian Viviette Applewhite said, she had missed her chance to vote for president just once – and that was because she could not find her polling place despite spending 12 hours looking.
This fall might mark the second time, Applewhite testified Wednesday in Commonwealth Court, because a new state law says she must bring photo identification to the polls in order to vote. And thanks to a purse-snatcher, she hasn’t got much in the way of photo ID.
Applewhite, who came to court in a motorized wheelchair and testified of having once marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said voting “gives me the right to help people and myself.”
She was one of the first witnesses in a state case that has drawn national attention. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other groups are asking a judge to knock the state’s tough new voter-ID law off the books before it can be used in the Nov. 6 election.
Attorneys for Applewhite and nine other voters argued Wednesday that the law violated the state constitution by imposing unfair burdens on voters and could disenfranchise as many as a million or more Pennsylvanians – especially those who are old, poor, or disabled.In court, ACLU lawyers pointed to a widely quoted June 23 remark by State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) at a Republican Party meeting. Turzai said the new voter-ID law “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
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