PA Voter ID Law Would Keep 93-Year-Old Who Marched With Martin Luther King From Voting

May 2, 2012 5:05 am

If there’s a contest for most sympathetic plaintiff in a lawsuit opposing a state voter ID law, Pennsylvania’s Viviette Applewhite wins.

The 93-year-old has voted in almost every election since 1960. Her daughter was a public servant. She has five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. She’s a widow. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Macon, Georgia during the civil rights movement and traveled to Atlanta to hear him preach.

Under Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, Applewhite wouldn’t be able to vote.Applewhite is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) and the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP on behalf of ten Pennsylvania voters.

The suit charges that that state’s voter ID law, signed on March 14 by Gov. Thomas Corbett, violates the Pennsylvania Constitution (Pennsylvania isn’t covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, so federal authorities couldn’t intervene). They want the court to issue an injunction stopping enforcement before the November election.

Applewood doesn’t drive and her purse containing her identification card was stolen. She’s been unable to obtain an identification card since because officials can’t track down her birth certificate.

Other plaintiffs in the case include a transgender man whose driver’s license says he is female, “but because he now looks, dresses and sounds like a man is likely to encounter problems at the polls,” a 89-year-old resident who initally couldn’t get a driver’s license because her marriage certificate is in Hebrew and another 93-year-old woman who has limited mobility and trouble getting to the polls.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania produced this video of Applewhite:

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