Seth Madej

Pennsylvania Has Decided That My Grandmother Shouldn't Vote

Posted by on August 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

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Yesterday a Pennsylvania appellate judge upheld the state's misconceived voter ID law, and by "misconceived" I mean slightly more poorly conceived than a drive-thru colonoscopy.

The law requires voters to present a state-issued photo ID at the polls when voting. Longtime readers of this blog will remember the chum bath I had to take to get a Pennsylvania drivers license a couple of years ago, but everyone else can find a summary of the ridiculous process now standing between PA residents and their constitutional right to vote in Kara Vallow's excellent blog post about the law.

Keep in mind that I had all that trouble getting my state ID while not only being independently mobile and Internet savvy but also having a 100% clear schedule and some disposable income. So imagine what's in store for people like my 90-year-old grandmother in Monongahela, Pa, who can't leave her apartment building without aid.

Luckily her polling place is less than 500 feet from her home. Of course that won't do her any good, because she's never had a driver's license, so first someone has to haul all 89 pounds of her eight miles to the closest PennDot office to get a photo ID. They'll also need to wait in line with her and help her fill out the forms. They might not want to bother though, because filling out the forms would be mostly useless, since Grandma probably didn't bring along her birth certificate with a raised seal, unless she's managed to keep track of it since 1922. So no voting for Grandma Madej. Ironically, my grandmother is a devout Catholic and likely would vote for some of the candidates that Governor Tom Corbett and the Republican state legislature were trying to help win by passing the law preventing people like her from voting in the first place.1

So, Pennsylvanians, that's what's happening in your state -- the birthplace of American democracy, the Keystone State, the second state in the Union. The recent judge's ruling doesn't bode well for this year's election, but there's still hope the law will be overturned through appeal. A better solution would be to have state officials change their minds. So if you're in Pennsylvania, or have family who is, maybe give Governor Tom a call (717-787-2500) along with your state representative and/or your state senator and tell them to repeal the voter ID law. I called on behalf of my grandmother. This is us:

Me and my grandmother at her 90th birthday party

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  1. Full disclosure: There's a chance my grandmother already has a state-issued photo ID. I doubt it, but either way you get the point I'm making. []

3 Comments

  • Du says:

    I agree--well said!

    This is a big problem in Wisconsin, too, where it affects older people born on farms who never had birth certificates, or if they did, they were incomplete certificates filled out later that are not considered valid today. Also, a number of married women whose names don't match their birth certificates are being asked to produce their marriage certificates, many of whom do not have them anymore.

    I do think the GOP is betting on older people being more likely to vote Democrat. Or perhaps is that they're so happy to disenfranchise inner city and young people, who are less likely to have driver's licenses and more likely to vote blue, that the loss of those older voters is worth it. Regardless, it seems pretty unconstitutional to me. But what do I know? --I'm an English major.

  • Jennifer Noonan says:

    They actually have just decided to make it a pain in the ass for her to vote. Which is essentially, what I've decided the government exists to do-- make life a total pain in the ass. I hope she orders a birth certificate from the records department of the hospital she was born at and gets her ID and VOTES. Because her vote counts and is important, regardless of who she votes for.

Comment Whydontcha