Sun., September 16, 2012 4:00pm (EDT)

Activists Make Push To Get IDs To Pa. Voters
By Timothy Churchill
Updated: 2 years ago

Gloria Gilman holds a sign Thursday in Philadelphia  during the NAACP voter ID rally to demonstrate her opposition to Pennsylvania's new voter identification law.
Gloria Gilman holds a sign Thursday in Philadelphia during the NAACP voter ID rally to demonstrate her opposition to Pennsylvania's new voter identification law.
Pennsylvania's politically split Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a lower court ruling that upheld the state's polarizing voter identification law.

The law requires a state-issued photo ID card to vote, and supporters say it will help prevent voter fraud. Voting-rights activists have now shifted strategies from attempting to overturn the law, to instead putting up to a million state-issued photo ID cards in the hands of residents.

State officials recently estimated it is possible nearly 200,000 Philadelphia residents alone don't have proper ID.

Bob Previdi works with the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, which has launched a tightly coordinated information and transportation campaign with the city. He says many people have expressed confusion about the voter ID law's requirements, and it is time for a concerted forward push.

"The law is the law. We've got to get people to understand what it is and make sure they have the appropriate ID," Previdi says. "We've just got to get to work, we've got to make sure our friends, our neighbors [and] our relatives all know about the law."

Pennsylvania officials have said that nobody has been prosecuted for in-person voter fraud in the state.

At a recent rally, Philadelphian Audrey Traynham worked a small crowd outside a Department of Motor Vehicles center, where residents go for state-issued IDs.

"I wasn't recruited by anyone," Traynham says. "I just feel like it's my civic duty to make sure ... everybody has their chance to vote."

Residents are required to bring a Social Security number and two items with their name and address, like a utility bill and pay stub, in order to get a state-issued ID.

Activists are also helping with transportation.

Lessie Hill, who lives in a low-income senior apartment complex in south Philadelphia, says she's helped roughly 80 neighbors because many of them no longer drive.

If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns the voter ID law, residents can vote the way they always have, but voting right activists say that's not a chance they're willing to take.


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