Today in five states, primaries will be taking place in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. There are many who have been and continue to be concerned about the voter ID laws passed in over 31 states primarily over the past three years that are requiring every voter to have a state-issued ID. The laws, which have additionally reduced or removed early voting and restricted voter registration efforts are said, by some, to make it more difficult for nearly five million eligible voters to go to the polls.
The NAACP, Rev. Al, and others have been doing what they can to mobilize and create legitimate opposition to the laws, which are on the books. And while I believe that we need to diligently fight these laws state by state, it is essential that we realize that most, if not all of these laws, will not be changed by the time the 19 remaining states have their primaries or even by the general election on Novwmber 6th, 2012.
So that means we have to do two things. The first thing we have to do is educate people on the rules of this new game. GET PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE ID’s an ID. For those of you voting in Pennsylvania today the ID rules are pretty straightforward. You need…per the votespa.com:
Photo ID’s issued by the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
- Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date)
- Valid U.S. passport
- U.S. military ID – active duty and retired military (a military or veteran’s ID must designate an expiration date or designate that the expiration date is indefinite). Military dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date
- Employee photo ID issued by Federal, Pennsylvania, County or Municipal government
- Photo ID cards from an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning
- Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences or personal care homes
For those of you that don’t think this really hits home, there is a 91-year-old woman in Pennsylvania who has voted in every election for 70 years. She was unable to get an ID, despite having all the documents on the Department of State checklist – birth certificate and Social Security card, both with her maiden name; her marriage certificate; deed to her house; Peco bills; plus her IRS refund check. But because the marriage license was in Hebrew…and no one at the bureau could read Hebrew. She was SOL. This shows not just how silly the law is, but how bad the staff often is at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It is essential that we don’t allow this to happen to our loved ones.
Churches, families, community centers, Greek letter organizations, and others…PLEASE start raising resources in states where ID’s are not free.
And where you can get them free, bring people together to help them through the process. Partner with local radio and newspapers as well as social media to get the word out. There is no reason why we can’t turn out as many people in 2012 as we did in 2008. It may not seem as exciting, but it is without question just as important. Complain about the laws that there is clearly no basis for. Fight to see them changed. But by all means, do what our community always has. No matter how many times they change the rules, play the game better than they do. It’s all about the ID. Get them and get to the polls.