Remember Virginia McLaurin, the 106 year old I wrote about who danced in the White House with President and Mrs. Obama a few months ago? Well, she is 107 now and she danced with the Harlem Globetrotters this spring. Despite all her publicity, she didn’t have a photo ID. It was stolen and she was not able to get one in Washington DC without her birth certificate which she didn’t have. She couldn’t get her birth certificate in South Carolina without a photo ID. Fortunately, Washington DC’s Mayor helped her by allowing other documents as proof of identity.
“It’s sad to see my mother having to stand in lines, getting tired,” Felipe Cardoso, McLaurin’s son, said before the issue was resolved. “She can’t understand how her picture could be in all those newspapers and all over the Internet, how so many people could recognize her on the street and want to take selfies with her, and she can’t even get a photo ID.”
Washington DC, where she lives does not require a photo ID to vote, but many of the older Americans who have voted in their states for decades without any trouble are being caught in the politically-motivated zeal to restrict voting in some states which have enacted strict voter ID laws.
It is so obvious what is going on here. Republican governors and legislatures have exaggerated problems of voter fraud so they could have an excuse to restrict voting in ways that would disproportionately effect minorities who usually support Democrats. Unfortunately, the very elderly have become collateral damage. They have been honest citizens who always voted and not involved in any fraud. Since they may not have their birth certificates or easy access to getting a copy if they have moved from where they were born, they have to spend time and money and stand in line to just re-establish their opportunity to vote.
Fortunately, we don’t have those voter ID laws in New York State though there was a voter purge in Brooklyn recently that eliminated over 100,000 voters there before the New York presidential primary last month. We have such a patchwork of voter laws and enforcement in this country. It’s a disgrace that politicians seek to restrict the right to vote which is what this country is all about. We should be expanding that right not restricting it. This is a perfect example of why advocacy for seniors is so important as they get run over by political acts.