I have the Power Of Attorney for an older friend, Charles, who is in a nursing home. Recently, Charles had become very concerned about getting a State ID. I told him that although he no longer drove, his driver’s license was still good for another year to use as identification. I told him it was a waste of $24.00 but he was insistent about getting a state ID. I took him to the BMV and the Clerk there told him he could wait another year as his driver’s license was still good. Finally, he said, “I heard on television that they won’t let me vote without a State ID.” The Clerk and I both reassured him that he couldn’t be denied his right to vote.
For years, I have encouraged him to cast absentee ballots but he wants to vote in person. I told him that I would take him to the Board of Election and he can still vote as he would if he were going to a precinct polling place, but he could do it early.
This year, after voting in the Primary, he told the people working at the Precinct Poll that he would never miss voting because he knew what it was like to be denied the right to vote. One of the poll workers looked stunned and asked how that had happened. Charles explained that he had grown up in the South where there were poll taxes. He went on to explain that although his father had the money to pay the poll tax, he was still denied the right to vote because they gave a literacy test which even a person holding a Ph.D in government could not have passed. Charles said that the reason he left the South was to be able to vote. Hearing this, one of the poll workers, whom I know to be a Republican, had tears in her eyes. She said, “I knew it happened in history but I never met anyone before who had been denied the right to vote.” Charles said, “I will NEVER give up my right because too many people died to make sure I can vote.” I was equally touched. I said, “Thank Lyndon Johnson for the Voting Rights Act of 1965!”
The reprehensible attempts of voter suppression by Kasich in our state, Scott in Florida, Perry in Texas, Walker in Wisconsin, and Haley in South Carolina, are all outmatched by the brazenness of the Leader of the Pennsylvania House who was quoted as saying that the state’s voter ID bill is “gonna allow Romney to win the state.” He didn’t even try to hide the motive! It would be different if there were any proof of widespread attempts of voter fraud, but there hasn’t been; any voter fraud has been miniscule in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and ZERO in South Carolina! It is just a calculated effort to deny people the right to vote. As my brother said, “If they can’t LIE, or BUY an election, they’ll DENY people the RIGHT to vote to guarantee a win.” LIE, BUY, and DENY!
I remember my heroes Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, and others who died because they were helping people fighting for their right to vote. It is indeed a sacred right. My all-time hero John Lewis spoke at the Democratic National Convention this year and in a rousing speech, said that the voter ID laws were “NOT RIGHT, NOT FAIR, AND NOT JUST!” (see accompanying speech). I’ll add my brother’s succinct “LIE, BUY, and DENY” to that!