Philadelphia Groups Scramble to Help Residents Get Voter ID

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As the courtroom battle over Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law rages on, voting rights activists are racing against time to undermine the spirit of what they say is a law that will disenfranchise otherwise eligible voters. “We’re trying to make sure that we are empowering as many folks on the streets, as often as we can,” says John Jordan, director of civic engagement for the Pennsylvania NAACP. Like many civil rights advocates caught in the voter ID scramble, however, Jordan is only as powerful as his volunteers. “Four years ago we were paying canvassers to do voter registration work,” he says. Now, tasked with informing voters about ID requirements in addition registering them, his organization is “pleading and begging” for volunteers in the effort to get IDs in the hands of voters.

Winded from a clinic in Harrisburg the night before, Jordan suits up on a hot Thursday morning for a meeting with 40 senior women at the Bethel Deliverance International Church in Wyncote, a Philadelphia suburb. He tells them that you can be fined up to $1,000 or locked up for 2 years if you lie on the “affirmation form” stating that you don’t have another eligible ID and need the state-issued voter ID. The audience is outraged.

Amanda Kinton, 75, has lived her entire life in Philadelphia and used to be a poll worker. Previously reluctant to volunteer, she and Jordan launch into a lively post-meeting repartee. “I’ll have to make the time,” she says. Phone calls, doors—“whatever, however.” Read more here.