Local coalition forms to educate on voter ID legislation

Updated: The original version of this post said this group was going to fight the law. In fact, it's an educational effort.

This just in from the Committee of Seventy:


PHILADELPHIA – March 13, 2012 – A broad‐based and diverse coalition of citywide organizations – organized by the non‐partisan Committee of Seventy and former city Managing Director Joe Certaine – has launched a rigorous non‐partisan campaign to educate every Philadelphia voter that an about‐to‐be‐enacted state law will requirethem to present a photo ID every time they vote.

City Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones, Jr. and Pete Matthews, President of AFSCME District Council 33 participated in the coalition’s initial planning session today.

“It will take an army fanning out across the city to get the word out,” said Zack Stalberg, Seventy’s President and CEO. “This enormous undertaking must start right now and continue every day until the November 6 general election.” Stalberg said every possible resource will be tapped – from convenience stores to banks to media outlets to libraries – to let voters know which IDs will be accepted at the polls and where to go if they don’t have one. “If necessary, we’ll drive voters to PennDOT offices to get ID,” he added.

A full description of the voter ID requirements is available at http://www.seventy.org/Elections_Voter_ID.aspx.

According to Stalberg, although coalition members represent distinct groups with clear points of view, they will be united in conducting a strictly non‐partisan citywide education campaign. “Voter ID is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It doesn’t matter which candidate you support. No one should be denied the right to vote because they lack an acceptable voter ID,” he said.

The non‐partisan Committee of Seventy, which has championed fair elections and informed citizens for over 100 years, will be the central point of contact for the coalition. Groups and individuals interested in participating should contact Dan Bright at dbright@seventy.org or 215‐557‐3600, ext. 124.

Joining Councilman Jones and Pete Matthews at the initial planning meeting were representatives from the Pennsylvania National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE) 119C, Labor District Council, Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), PA Voice/Protect Our Vote Coalition, Prince Hall Masons, National Action Network and Philadelphia National Action Network and Radio‐One.

All 17 members of Philadelphia City Council have designated a liaison to work with the coalition. Joe Certaine said that today’s meeting reminded him of the partnership between grass‐roots groups and the Committee of Seventy during the political battles of the 1970’s.

“There was a lot of energy in the room,” he said. “They may not like this law, but recognize that the best way to combat it is to make sure it doesn’t hold anyone back from voting.”