At a Wednesday morning press conference attended by more than 100 Philadelphians, state Sen. Shirley Kitchen argued that the controversial Voter ID law is a disenfranchising measure which will directly impact up to 25 percent of residents in her district, which covers parts of Northwest and North Philadelphia.
She was joined by Ben Geffen, staff attorney at Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
Who is at risk?
Geffen, whose office is leading a lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of 10 voters, told those assembled that he has heard from residents struggling to find the documents necessary to obtain photo identification which will would enable them to vote in November.
Several of those voters are having difficulty obtaining a birth certificate. The reasons why include a senior citizen who has no record of her midwife-delivery birth in Georgia and another woman who, because she was adopted shortly after being born in Puerto Rico, does not know her birth-parents’ names.
The law could also affect college students.
“There are some out there [for whom] the actual college ID is the ID that they use most often, so why not use that as a means to vote?” said Ofo Ezeugwu, vice president of external affairs for Temple Student Government.
Four decades of voting in the same place
Dr. Lucille Ijoy, 80, said she was stunned when she learned about the Voter ID bill (now law) because she has been voting at the same location for more than 40 years.
“I couldn’t imagine that there would be a time where I could show up at the polls and they say you can’t vote because you don’t have proper ID,” said Ijoy. “When I walk in the door, they say, ‘Hi Ijoy’ because they know me. You can’t do that anymore, and it’s a big change.”
According to the new bill, voters will now have to show Pennsylvania state identification displaying a name that matches the one on their voter registration. (Update: Some federal ID forms are acceptable as well. The Committee of Seventy offers a full list). Names on documents such as birth and marriage certificate and divorce decree must also match in order to obtain a state ID.