Pennsylvania's new voter ID laws will face a challenge Wednesday in the state courts led by civil rights groups. The Justice Department on Monday launched an investigation into the laws, which make it more difficult for 758,000 mostly lower-income residents to get to the polls. The plaintiff in the state case is Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old woman whose ID was in her purse when it was recently stolen.
The attorneys defending Pennsylvania's laws admit that there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in the state. Furthermore, as guest host Michael Eric Dyson argued on Tuesday's The Ed Show, they do not know of any such investigation or prosecutions in other states.
"If you look at how poll taxes were used, they were used as obstacles to prevent poor voters from being able to participate," said Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington chapter of the NAACP. "Now you're paying a price—a dollar figure—to participate in the electoral process. It is indeed a poll tax."
The voter ID laws in 11 that have been enacted since 2010 are the biggest assault on voter rights since the 1965 Civil Right Act, said commentator E.J. Dionne. "You're talking about the full monty of voter suppression," he said.