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Longtime Voter, 93, Challenges ID Law

New voter ID laws burden many older voters

Viviette Applewhite has marched for civil rights and has voted in nearly every presidential election since 1960.

"I believe in saying what I think," says Applewhite, 93, of Philadelphia.

She has two words for Pennsylvania's strict new voter photo ID law: "It stinks."

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Viviette Applewhite in her Philadelphia home photographed her holding her birth certificate and her mass transit ID.

Bill Kramer/Wonderful Machine

Viviette Appelwhite is challenging the law requiring voters to show a photo ID.

Applewhite is lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the law, which requires voters to show a photo ID. In August a state judge refused to grant the suit’s request for an injunction that would block the law for the November election. The decision was appealed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other groups that filed the suit, contending that the law imposes a heavy burden on voters.

Pennsylvania is one of 30 states with voter ID requirements of some kind for 2012.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), the law's chief sponsor, did not return calls seeking comment.

Applewhite says she fears that she and other older adults will be turned away from the polls because they lost, or never had, birth certificates, which are needed to obtain photo IDs. Applewhite lost her birth certificate and Social Security card years ago when her purse was stolen. She finally received a birth certificate after the lawsuit was filed.

But that's not the end of her worries, says Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU. To get a photo ID, Applewhite also needs a Social Security card, and she'll need to make a trip in her wheelchair to a Social Security office, he says.

"What we're finding is this law disproportionately affects the elderly who no longer drive and have mobility problems," Walczak says.

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