Americans affected by voter suppression: Theresa Kukowski

Updated
People pass the signs telling of the requirement for voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote as they head into the the Penndot Drivers License Center in Butler, Pa.
People pass the signs telling of the requirement for voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote as they head into the the Penndot Drivers License Center in Butler, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

Editor’s note: This is the second in a regular series of posts between now and Election Day, telling the stories of Americans who find themselves affected by voter ID laws and other roadblocks to voting. You can find the first post here.


A judge will rule by Tuesday on Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law, which would bar Pennsylvanians from voting without a state-issued photo ID, and which is being challenged by voting-rights groups.

If the law is upheld, one person who may be unable to vote is Theresa Kukowski a 62-year-old Philadelphia resident and regular voter who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Last month, Kukowski testified in court about what she’d have to go through to exercise her right to vote.

I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis for the past 16 years and am currently confined to a wheelchair. It is especially hard for [my husband] Richard to transfer me from my wheelchair into our 17-year-old minivan. I once had a Pennsylvania driver’s license, but I stopped driving about five years ago, and my license has been expired for a few years. I don’t have any other form of photo identification that I can present at the polls in November.

Our polling place is about 1 1/2 blocks away from our house. When we vote, my husband pushes me in my wheelchair from our house to the polling place. It takes about 5 minutes for us to get there.

I had heard something about the new voter identification law a while back, but I did not realize that I would be affected by the law until September 22, 2012, when I received a notice in mail about the new law.

Traveling to a PennDOT center to get an ID in the short amount of time before this November’s election would be very difficult. The closest PennDOT center is on Oxford Avenue in Philadelphia, which is more than two miles away and too far for Richard to push me there in my wheelchair. If at all possible, I will try to have Richard take me in the car to the PennDOT before Election Day, but it would be very difficult–especially because we hear that there are long lines at the PennDOT center.

Voting is very meaningful to me. It is my voice about the future of this country. In particular, the issues of Medicare and Medicaid are important to me, because, without these programs, it would be impossible for Richard and me to make ends meet.

More testimony from voters affected by Pennsylvania’s law can be found here.

Pennsylvania

Americans affected by voter suppression: Theresa Kukowski

Updated