News & Media

Pennsylvania faith leaders oppose new voter I.D. law

September 27, 2012

Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER)

On the same day the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard testimony on a new photo identification law that could make it difficult for many eligible voters to cast a ballot; Philadelphia clergy and leaders gathered at the state capitol to speak out against the measure.

With “Let My People Vote” signs in hand, the clergy and leaders of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER), urged the state Supreme Court to consider the estimated 800,000 people, including minorities, seniors and students, who could be left out of the democratic process if the law is upheld.

“We believe this law,  would take away what little power many folks in our congregations desperately hold on to – the power to have a voice, the power of citizenship,” says Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church in Center City and POWER leader.

In a 4-2 decision the state Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower Commonwealth Court, where a judge ruled that the law could go forward. The Supreme Court asked for an opinion by Oct. 2.  If the judge finds there will be no voter disenfranchisement and that IDs are easily obtained, then the law can stand, the Supreme Court said, according to the Associated Press.

The rally also marked the launch of POWER’s “Let My People VOTE” campaign. Let My People VOTE is an effort led by African-American and Latino congregations within the PICO National Network to register voters and combat voter suppression.