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Three Quarters of a Million Voters Set to Be Disenfranchised in Pennsylvania

Common Dreams staff

(photo: video still from The Ed Show below)

Over 750,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania may be disenfranchised under the state's new voter ID law, election officials on reported on Tuesday.

The three quarters of a million figure represents 9.2 percent of the state's voters.

The new law pushed by Republican lawmakers requires an ID from the state Transportation Department or other approved ID, a move that Republicans said was to prevent voter fraud and that Democrats said would disenfranchise many including the poor, elderly and young.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said the election officials' report showed an unacceptable number of voters would be disenfranchised.  “About 10 percent of otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised by the Voter ID law. That’s not an acceptable number of people to tell that they can’t vote.”

And Pennsylvania House of Representatives Majority Leader Mike Turzai's statements cast doubt on the aim of preventing voter fraud.  "Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

The Advancement Project along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, filed a lawsuit on May 1 challenging the constitutionality of the state's voter ID law. "This law is a part of the largest legislative effort to turn back the clock on voting rights in our nation in over a century," said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis.

"This law deprives many eligible voters in the commonwealth - disproportionately the poor, minorities, senior citizens, young voters and people with disabilities - of their fundamental right to vote. If this law is allowed to stand it will disenfranchise thousands of voters in Pennsylvania who cannot overcome the law's many hurdles and will undermine the basic fabric of our democracy," added Browne Dianis.

As Mother Jones illustrates, the efforts to restrict voting are not limited to Pennsylvania. Since 2011, 17 states have enacted voting restrictions, and new laws could affect 5 million voters in the upcoming presidential election.

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One of the registered voters who will be unable to vote in November is 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, who thinks the situation "stinks."

Viviette Applewhite is 93-years-old and has voted in nearly every election for the last 60 years. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Georgia. She has tried for years to obtain photo ID to no avail. Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, Ms. Applewhite's vote will not be counted. She is a plaintiff in our lawsuit to stop voter ID.

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