Commentary Magazine


Topic: Viviette Applewhite

Left Turns Voting Rights Into a Farce

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

Read More

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama sounded a battle cry at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner when she said protecting the right to vote is the nation’s most important civil rights issue. If that were true, that would mean there no credible civil rights concerns in the country. What Obama was talking about was the effort by Democrats to prevent the implementation of laws requiring voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots. The common sense measure has the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans. They understand that cheating is baked into the DNA of our political parties and see nothing unreasonable about requiring someone to do the same thing as when they wish to board a plane, a train, open a bank account or buy a beer or a cigarette: prove they are who they say there are. Mrs. Obama’s attempt to demagogue this issue is the backdrop for false liberal arguments that voter ID legislation is the modern version of the Jim Crow laws of the segregation era. Those claims are currently being adjudicated in Pennsylvania, where a judge has until Tuesday to decide whether the state’s voter ID law should be thrown out.

In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. threw out the challenge when he said that while he was sympathetic to those who claimed they had difficulty acquiring a photo ID, there was no proof of disenfranchisement. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now kicked the case back to him and hearings were again held this week to determine whether the state is acting appropriately. Though the state has loosened the already lenient requirements to get a state card, the judge hinted that he might give in to pressure from liberal groups and grant an injunction to block its implementation. If so, it will undermine attempts to ensure voter integrity.

Conspicuous by her absence from the second round in front of Judge Simpson was the lead plaintiff from the initial hearings back during the summer. At that time, opponents of voter ID heralded the participation in their suit of 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, a woman who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Applewhite didn’t have a birth certificate or a drivers license and might have been prevented from voting. But as I wrote last month, Ms. Applewhite subsequently undermined the voter ID challenge by strolling into a Department of Motor Vehicles office, explaining her problem and emerging a short while later proudly displaying her new state photo ID as a somewhat disappointed reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer looked on. The Inquirer had hoped to document the difficulties of getting an ID, but they had instead proved just how easy it was.

Ms. Applewhite incurred the wrath of her erstwhile leftist sympathizers for ditching them but she has been replaced with others with their own exceptional stories to engage the judge’s sympathy. No doubt, they have also been instructed to on no account use some common sense and do as Applewhite did and resolve their problem without the help of liberal lawyers with a political axe to grind.

At stake here is a the principle that voters ought to be able to verify they are who they say there as well as being residents of the district where they seek to cast their ballots, not to mention being citizens. As an elderly African-American like Ms. Applewhite proved, minorities and senior citizens are fully capable of dealing with this challenge and the state has shown it is ready to bend over backwards to help anyone who really wants to vote.

The vast majority of Americans, including most members of minority groups, have photo IDs. Those who don’t can get them free of charge from the state. Those without them can cast provisional ballots that will not be invalidated unless they cannot subsequently prove their identity. The idea that this uncomplicated law is a new version of “Jim Crow” drains that term of any meaning. Liberals have redefined “voting rights” to mean something different from what it did half a century ago. Then it meant depriving people of the right to vote on the basis of race. Now it means defending the right of any person who can’t prove their identities or citizenship to vote illegally. Mrs. Obama and the left have turned a sacred cause into a farce.

Read Less

The Jim Crow Lie Debunked Again

Last week, liberals were dealt a cruel blow when a Pennsylvania court refused to grant an injunction prohibiting the Keystone State from implementing its voter ID law in November. The opponents of the legislation, who alleged that hundreds of thousands of citizens would be prohibited from voting, failed to show why a clearly constitutional measure aimed at preserving the integrity of the process should be thrown out, sending the state election machinery into chaos. However, the opponents of voter ID did gain some sympathy with both the judge and the public by highlighting the plight of the lead plaintiff in the suit, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite. Ms. Applewhite, who once marched with Martin Luther King Jr., didn’t have a valid photo ID or for some reason, a Social Security card, and the name on her birth certificate didn’t match the one on other documents so in theory she lacked the proof needed to get the free photo ID the state is offering to non-drivers who want to vote. Ms. Applewhite’s predicament seem to bolster the argument that voter ID was a new version of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That was enough to get her picture on the front page of the New York Times last week in an article intended to bolster voter ID opponents case.

But it turns out the state machinery for helping such exceptional cases is not, as Democrats claimed, devoted to suppressing the vote. Last week, Ms. Applewhite, accompanied by a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer showed up at Department of Motor Vehicles office in the city and asked for a photo ID. She got one with no fuss and without any evidence that the clerks there had any idea who she was (perhaps civil service employees are too busy there to read the Times or other newspapers). Ms. Applewhite was delighted and said it showed that all you need to succeed is “to just keep trying.” She’s right but her erstwhile sponsors were not so pleased as community activists challenging the law reacted with cynicism and disappointment to learn that their claim that the law was intended to arbitrarily prevent honest citizens from voting was effectively debunked. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from continuing to cast aspersions on the law as racist and to pretend that there is no such thing as voter fraud, even in Philadelphia.

Read More

Last week, liberals were dealt a cruel blow when a Pennsylvania court refused to grant an injunction prohibiting the Keystone State from implementing its voter ID law in November. The opponents of the legislation, who alleged that hundreds of thousands of citizens would be prohibited from voting, failed to show why a clearly constitutional measure aimed at preserving the integrity of the process should be thrown out, sending the state election machinery into chaos. However, the opponents of voter ID did gain some sympathy with both the judge and the public by highlighting the plight of the lead plaintiff in the suit, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite. Ms. Applewhite, who once marched with Martin Luther King Jr., didn’t have a valid photo ID or for some reason, a Social Security card, and the name on her birth certificate didn’t match the one on other documents so in theory she lacked the proof needed to get the free photo ID the state is offering to non-drivers who want to vote. Ms. Applewhite’s predicament seem to bolster the argument that voter ID was a new version of segregationist “Jim Crow” laws. That was enough to get her picture on the front page of the New York Times last week in an article intended to bolster voter ID opponents case.

But it turns out the state machinery for helping such exceptional cases is not, as Democrats claimed, devoted to suppressing the vote. Last week, Ms. Applewhite, accompanied by a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer showed up at Department of Motor Vehicles office in the city and asked for a photo ID. She got one with no fuss and without any evidence that the clerks there had any idea who she was (perhaps civil service employees are too busy there to read the Times or other newspapers). Ms. Applewhite was delighted and said it showed that all you need to succeed is “to just keep trying.” She’s right but her erstwhile sponsors were not so pleased as community activists challenging the law reacted with cynicism and disappointment to learn that their claim that the law was intended to arbitrarily prevent honest citizens from voting was effectively debunked. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from continuing to cast aspersions on the law as racist and to pretend that there is no such thing as voter fraud, even in Philadelphia.

On that latter point, I have pointed out in past posts that one of the primary motivations for the passage of the law in the Pennsylvania legislature last year was the fact that it is common knowledge that voter fraud in Philadelphia isn’t so much endemic as it is institutionalized. Several precincts in the city where turnout is normally light have reported vote totals that exceed the number of registered voters, a feat that is impossible to explain without bringing up the term fraud. It’s true that these events haven’t been investigated or prosecuted by local authorities, a point that is presented by voter ID opponents as proof that such activities are the invention of Republicans. But the explanation for the failure of the district attorneys in question to pursue the matter isn’t complicated: they are dependent on the same Democratic machine responsible for the shady vote totals to get elected to their own office.

Over at National Review, John Fund has gone deeper into the subject and the result is a comprehensive portrait of the recent record of voter fraud in the city and state. It’s a must read.

Americans support voter ID laws because they understand that they are inherently reasonable. You need a photo ID to travel, buy a beer or conduct the simplest of transactions with a bank or the government. Indeed, rather than the onus being on voter ID proponents, opponents of the law have yet to say why they think it’s okay for someone to be able to show up and vote without proof of their identity or even citizenship.

In the no-holds barred atmosphere of a presidential election, partisans are liable to say anything about their foes so perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked at the willingness of Democrats to engage in racial incitement on this issue. But most Americans aren’t buying it. As for Viviette Applewhite, she’s free to vote for whomever she wants this November. Anyone else, be they black or white, who is willing to make a minimal effort, will be able to say the same.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.