A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court trial began July 25 in the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania suit against the state over the new measure, which will require voters to present state-issued ID at the polls starting this November. The trial is expected to last through the end of this week.
Ten plaintiffs are involved in the case, including a transgender man, who testified last Friday.
Asher Schor told the court that he fears his PennDOT-issued license will not be accepted at the polls this fall.
The 23-year-old Pittsburgh resident presents as a male but his license bears his female name, a female gender marker and a photo that depicts him before he began his transition.
Schor testified that the testosterone regimen he began last November has made a marked difference in his appearance — with the growth of facial hair and redistribution of body fat.
He also told the court that, earlier this year, a U.S. marshal questioned the card when Schor, a legal assistant for a prisoners’ advocacy agency, presented it for a work visit at a courthouse.
“I went into federal court [and] when I presented my ID, the marshal at the door kind of looked at the ID then looked at me and looked at [the] ID and looked at me, and his behavior towards me changed quite considerably,” Schor testified. “He became much shorter with me. He refused to let me bring a laptop in even though I brought it in the previous day. He questioned me, ‘What’s your name?’ And though he did let me in eventually, it was a much longer and much more hostile process.”
Schor anticipates he and other transgender voters could face the same treatment by poll workers.
“I’m afraid certainly for myself that I’ll go to my polling place in Pittsburgh [and] present my ID and the poll worker will tell me it’s a fake ID, tell me this isn’t me, give me a lot of harassment and, ultimately, I do fear being disenfranchised,” he testified.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Cawley handled the cross-examination, on which he pressed Schor to acknowledge that he had not been stopped from entering the federal courthouse, any other work-related buildings or bars with his current ID.
Other witnesses included the lead plaintiff, Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old Philadelphian who once marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite testified about her struggles to obtain a photo ID without a Social Security card and birth certificate, which were lost to theft and fire.
The law is expected to place a heavy burden on elderly voters. About a quarter of Philadelphians who lack valid ID are senior citizens.
Critics of the measure have argued that it was crafted to disenfranchise minority and poor voters — populations that tend to vote for Democrats.
State Bureau of Elections head Jonathan Marks told the court Monday that the state did not know how many voters would not have a valid ID under the new law.
Proponents of the law predicted that the number was minimal, but the Pennsylvania Department of State this summer said up to 750,000 residents could lack an accepted ID.
Plaintiff attorneys showed a video in court of Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28th Dist.) telling a Republican gathering that the voter-ID law will allow presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney “to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Judge Robert Simpson is expected to rule on the issue by mid-August.