Earlier this month, we learned about advertisements released in April which place an eerily positive spin on Pennsylvania's restrictive and oppressive voter ID law. The ads were the brainchild of Chris Bravacos, a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The ad's slogan, "your right to vote: it's one thing you never want to miss out on," with a smiling cast of multiracial individuals masks the discriminatory function of the Pennsylvania voter ID law. Although the ads have been removed from the internet, the political implications of the video's production continues to resonate.
Despite claims that the law would affect less than 1% of voters, some figures report that at least 9% of Pennsylvania voters do not have the newly required identification-- a startling 758,939 individuals. The great majority of these individuals are people of color, the elderly and people living in low-income communities. In Philadelphia- a city where Black residents hold the majority- the projected percentage of disenfranchised individuals is as high as 18%.
Last month we watched as GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made his party's political motivations blatantly clear. The fact that these voter "education" videos were produced by one of Romney's most zealous financial and political supporters is further evidence that recent voter ID laws are highly political.
Activists in Pennsylvania are responding to this new law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the NAACP filed a lawsuit on June 3rd, claiming that the new restriction constitutes a violation of the Pennsylvania constitution. Among the plaintiffs is Vivette Applewhite, a 93-year-old former welder and activist who marched alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although Applewhite has been voting for 49 years, under the recent Pennsylvania voting law she is disqualified from participating in this year's presidential election.
For more coverage on issues related to voting rights and the 2012 election, check out our new website dedicated exclusively to this content: vote.colorofchange.org.