The new restrictions on voting implemented by Gov. Tom Corbett this spring has sparked some Germantown-area leaders recently to form a coalition for the purpose of opposing those restrictions that they contend are targeted at limiting electoral participation by voters favoring Democratic candidates.
This coalition that includes former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, Rev. Robert P. Shine, Bishop Linda D. Calhoun and Michael Quintero have jumped into the fray with other groups united in formulating strategies to battle the restrictions approved by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature commonly known as the Voter ID Bill.
This bill changes long-standing voting procedures by requiring voters to produce government-issued identification to vote. Supporters of the measure contend it will lessen vote fraud while opponents cite the fact that fraud through impersonation is virtually nonexistent in Pennsylvania, the 16th state to adopt such measures.
Community leaders, like members of this coalition, said they believe this law is a a direct form of voter suppression, which prevents or discourages people from exercising their right to vote. Without proper knowledge of this measure’s details many voters will be left in the dark, coalition members contended.
“We’ve been going around meeting with clergy explaining to them this new Voter ID law and what it is that we need to do to get people information and education about obtaining a photo ID,” Miller said.
For the election on Nov. 6, individuals without an up-to-date Pennsylvania driver’s or non-driver’s license, passport or U.S. military ID will not be permitted to vote. College, employee or expired IDs are no longer acceptable identification for voting. Community organizers said they think this law will impact minorities and young adults the most–constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic.
These community leaders have been working hard since approval of this bill in March to rally support. They have been busy planning a Freedom Ride to Harrisburg to combat the bill. By mobilizing opposition, coalition members hope the planned rally will convince judges to block implement of the bill. A number of voting rights, civic and civil rights organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Voter ID bill alleging that it unlawfully cripples constitutional rights.
“There will be many churches and organizations providing vans for the Freedom Ride and we also want to provide rides to Penndot so people can get their IDs,” Quintero said.
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