Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: Viviette Applewhite, ACLU, NAACP File Lawsuit

Civil rights advocates have been fighting this year against controversial voter ID laws in a number of states across the country. On Tuesday, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and NAACP challenging the voter ID law in Pennsylvania.

Under the new law, which Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signed in March, Pennsylvania will issue free photo ID cards to voters who can produce birth certificates or other proof of identify.

But Applewhite, who marched in Macon, Ga., with Martin Luther King during the height of the civil rights movement and first voted in 1960, casting her ballot for John F. Kennedy, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, doesn't have a drivers license. She never learned to drive, and she lost her other IDs when her purse was stolen years ago. She has asked the state for a copy of her birth certificate, but the state can't seem to find it. As a result, she can't get a photo ID that will allow her to vote in the November election.

"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 a news conference. "Two hundred years ago, we actually fought a war for this right. This is an extremely important right."

The lawsuit also alleges that the state’s promise of a free photo ID is not completely accurate, given that the birth certificate is required to obtain it costs $10. Other states charge even more.

Pennsylvania is among a number of states that have adopted laws requiring voters to present ID in order to cast a ballot. In March the Obama administration blocked a Texas voter ID law on the grounds that it could harm Hispanic voters, who often lack photo identification.

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