On Monday evening, state Rep. Rosita Youngblood held the first of three voter ID workshops aimed to educate and register voters in her sprawling district.
In the basement of the Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Logan, Youngblood (D-198) teamed up once again with state Sen. Shirley Kitchen and both city and state officials to inform their constituents about the details of Act 18, known colloquially as the voter ID law.
While the government representatives were on hand to present specific details about identification needed to participate in the November general elections, Youngblood used the event to denounce the law and describe what she’s doing to combat it.
“The Pennsylvania Constitution does not state that you do have to have ID to vote,” said Youngblood, whose district covers portions of Germantown, Mt. Airy and Nicetown. “It says ‘one man, one vote.'”
Youngblood’s outreach strategy
Youngblood related that she is acquiring a list of voters, from the City Commissioner’s Office, identified by the state as having problematic IDs, including those with suffixes or inconsistencies in middle-name usage.
Dennis Lee, chief deputy for Commissioner Stephanie Singer, said that his office has such a list broken down by ward and division.
Noting a “change in tone” from the state, Lee said the list was “another method to alert people of voter ID information.”
To this end, Youngblood said her office recently sent mailings and placed robo-calls to constituents in her district with iffy ID’s.
On Monday, Youngblood also kicked off a petition drive aiming to cement public opposition against the voter ID law.
“We want folks to sign up so that I can turn them in to the governor and say, ‘We the people oppose Act 18 and we want it repealed,'” she said to hearty applause from some of the 50 people at the workshop.
In addition to reaching out to her own constituents, Youngblood will share the petition with colleagues, hoping to garner as many as 6,000 signatures.
Youngblood plans to conclude her petition drive in the first week of September, just prior to the fall legislative session.
A peer’s reaction
State Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-194) called the petition a “symbolic gesture.”
Noting that there are only 10 legislative sessions between the start of the fall term and Election Day, DeLissio said she’s going to “work with the hand that’s been dealt.”
“We’re going to spend our time and energy making sure folks are informed and that they’re eligible to vote in November,” said DeLission, whose district covers Manayunk and Roxborough in Northwest Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County.
Youngblood reiterated earlier statements concerning the language contained on free voter ID cards being offered by PennDOT. She discouraged people from obtaining them.
“Don’t get it,” she said after asking people in room if they already had the free ID.
Met with silence, she encouraged those in attendance to apply for the PennDOT ID cards that cost $13.50.
Of particular concern to Youngblood are the penalties for both voters and poll workers over issues of identification.
For voters, the free voter ID card is only to be used “for voting purposes only.” Other usage can result in hefty fines or imprisonment.
For poll workers, strict adherence to ID guidelines is a must, as relying solely on casual recognition of a voter could result in fines or jail time. As a result of this, Youngblood alleged that some poll workers are hanging up their clipboards.
“Election boards are resigning,” she observed, relaying that workers don’t want to be responsible for having to check people “that they’ve known for 40 years.”
For his part, Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who lives in East Falls, said that his office is not aware of elected poll workers stepping down as a result of pending identification responsibilities.
“There’s a lot we have to be vigilant about with voter ID,” Youngblood said.
Rep. Youngblood will host two more voter ID events: one on Sept. 6 at 1717 W. Hunting Park Ave., and one on Sept. 13 at 18 W. Chelten Ave.