ID laws attempt to disenfranchise voters

United Methodist Women (UMW) is concerned about Pennsylvania and other states seeking to disenfranchise many voters by a new law that requires an identification card.

Bishop Peggy Johnson

Bishop Johnson

Gladys Hubbard, a member of Tioga United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, gave a presentation at a meeting recently in Nashville where she was able to obtain the full support of the UMW to mobilize and to help with this issue.

In the United States, we have a history of struggling over who has the right to vote. Victories in the past have been won through intense mobilization. Yet today we are seeing a new push to disenfranchise many people through state laws that create multiple hurdles for registering and voting, as well as challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself!

Defend democracy

In this election, UMW believes it is urgent that we defend our democracy and help everyone have the chance to cast a ballot. This is a role that UMW has played for decades and its call to action is needed now more than ever.

Note: A federal court blocked a Texas law Aug. 30 that would have required voters to show photo identification. (More in Editor’s note below.)

In a UMW Action Alert “Suppression of Voting Rights: A Threat to Democracy,” we are alerted: “A new surge of state voter ID laws disproportionately impacts seniors, students and peoples of color. About 11% of eligible Americans (21 million) do not have state-issued photo IDs, including 15% of low income voters, 18 % of young eligible voters, 18% of seniors and 25% of African Americans, according to The Nation. Thirteen million adults do not have access to proof of citizenship, which will hinder their efforts to obtain a photo ID.”

Get involved

I ask you to get involved.

  • Be sure that you are registered. If you have moved recently be sure you have transferred your registration.
  • Join with others such as the NAACP and “Rock the Vote” to help register new voters.
  • Make sure you are still eligible to vote. New ID rules, purges of voting lists and other changes in some states may affect your ability to vote. Do not wait until Election Day.
  • Make sure you have the required ID if necessary, and that your name is still on the rolls.
  • Find out if early voting laws have changed in your area. If you are unable to get to the polls find someone who can assist you, or apply early for an absentee ballot.

Stay connected

Stay informed and stay connected.

With fewer than 80 days left before the November election, there is no time to waste.

Editor’s note: Bishop Peggy Johnson is the episcopal leader of nearly 1,000 churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences.

Texas law blocked

On Aug. 30, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., blocked a Texas law that would have required voters to show photo identification. The court ruled that the legislation would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel marks the first time that a federal court has blocked a voter-ID law. The court described the law as the most stringent in the country.

The panel ruled that Texas had failed to show that its statute would not harm voting rights of minorities. The judges also found that evidence indicated that the cost of obtaining a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on African American and Hispanic voters.

In issuing the 56-page opinion, the judges wrote that the Texas law likely would have a "retrogressive effect" on the ability of minority voters to cast ballots. It also determined that the "implicit costs" of obtaining necessary ID "will fall most heavily on the poor."

Letter to the Editor