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In Pennsylvania, the Rosa Parks of voter ID faces down GOP voter suppression

A Pennsylvania court will hear a suit challenging the state's voter ID law, which requires a volume of voter qualification proof not present in a Supreme Court ruling that upheld voter ID. Leading the charge: a 93-year-old black woman. If she loses, Republican voter suppression wins.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann holds a postcard June 12 to help identify voters in need of a free state government issued ID card for voting. Op-ed contributor Nicolaus Mills writes that new voter ID requirements match 'the historic voter-suppression efforts that have targeted minorities rather than preserved the integrity of elections.'

Rogelio V. Solis/AP/file

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The battle over how far states can go in their voter identification requirements will face a high-noon showdown July 25 in the Commonwealth appellate court in Pennsylvania.

The court will hear the case of Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At issue is a new state law signed March 14 by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. The law requires voters casting ballots in person to have a photo ID from a limited number of sources, such as a driver’s license or a government-issued employee ID.

What makes the Pennsylvania case special is that it relies on a volume of voter qualification evidence not present in the definitive 2008 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Indiana’s strict voter ID photo requirements by a 6-3 vote.

In the Indiana case, Justice John Paul Stevens, a traditional defender of civil rights, sided with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority because he found no evidence that Indiana’s photo-ID requirement imposed “excessively burdensome requirements.”

The carefully prepared Pennsylvania case suffers no such evidentiary lack. It has a series of plaintiffs, led by Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old black woman, who worked as a welder in World War II and later marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.


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