Story by: NETERA BRICKLE / Paul Robeson High School
Photo by: VICTORIA LEE / Academy at Palumbo
“The right to vote in America is not dead, the right to vote in Pennsylvania is not dead, but it’s on life support!” Rawell Andrews the Regional Vice President of the AARP said in a very inspiring speech about the new voter ID law in Pennsylvania that goes fully into effect in November around election time.
The listening crowd of AARP members and law petitioners at the July 19 rally started to cheer and chant the new slogan “don’t block my vote!”
Many people gathered that day in support of banning the new voter ID law, calling it unconstitutional and unfair to senior citizens who couldn’t be “up to par” with the new requirements to vote.
Jessie Davis is a 84-year-old woman who personally knows friends born in the same year she was that will not be able to vote this year because they do not have a proper ID.
“I wish it would just go away,” she says while shaking her head. “Republicans made this to keep those who voted for Obama unable to vote this election.” Asked what she thought the outcome of this election would be, she proclaimed confidently “the Republicans will be defeated, this law is unconstitutional.”
However Helen Minyard, only a few seats down, had a different view. “I believe that the outcome could be the Republicans could win and will be the ones in power now,” she said, but then also agreed with Davis, saying that it is unfair that people who aren’t able to obtain their birth certificate are now unable to partake in voting.
“Molly,” a PennDOT worker, with the new law, stating that “any law preventing people to get to the poles is not a good thing.” She also said that her reason for attending the rally was to inform people on how to get proper photo identification. She said that the only things you need are your social security number, birth certificate, and two documents to serve as proofs of residence.
Some people are not able to access that information, noted James Palmquist, State President of the AARP, who has a relative that lives in South Carolina and does not have a birth certificate. This impacts many other senior citizens, he said, because at one point they did not have birth certificates in South Carolina. Palmquist also says “It doesn’t block votes, government wants to prevent the right to exercise votes” which is why he, as well as all the other AARP officials and members officially declared this as a “state of emergency” for voters all over the USA.
Later in his speech, Andrews said, “Americans and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are at the crossroads of freedom.”
With an estimated 9.2 percent of the 8 million Pennsylvanians without photo identification some have sought legal action to repeal the law, but for now all the American voter can do, is hope.