Voter ID opponents trying to chip away at new law's requirements
By MARK SHADE Correspondent
Updated 7/27/2012 8:16:02 PM ET
HARRISBURG — In Pennsylvania’s new world of voter identification
requirements, Asher Schor is a conundrum.
But for the people fighting to stop the state’s new voter
identification law from taking effect this November, the Pittsburgh
resident has become one of their best reasons why the judicial system
should grant their request for an injunction.
Under Act 18, registered voters will only be able to vote if they
present a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or one of several
pre-approved forms of photo ID that feature current expiration dates.
Poll workers will have to decide if the name a voter provides before
voting “reasonably conforms” to the registered name in their books.
They will use the same discretion in comparing the voter’s physical
appearance with how that person looks on their photo ID, if they
remember to bring one.
And this could be Schor’s problem. While “Asher” is a man’s name, it
is not Schor’s legal first name. Schor’s legal first name is Devra.
Devra Schor began taking testosterone injections in the fall of 2011
and, a short time later, had both of her breasts removed by doctors.
Today, Schor’s hair is shorter and facial hair and sideburns are
visible. The legal assistant for a prisoners’ rights organization says
her voice is sounding more like a man’s in that it is getting lower.
Schor still has female mannerisms and the lower half of her body still
resembles a woman’s, but on this day in Commonwealth Court, she
disguised her features wearing a blue shirt and red tie underneath a
navy sweater. Cream-colored corduroy pants covered her legs.
Her physical appearance is different from her driver’s license photo
and her passport, and the name on both legally accepted voting
documents is Devra Schor, not Asher Schor.
“I’m afraid that I’ll go to my polling place (in November), present my
ID, and the polling worker will not believe me,” Schor testified
during the third day of this high-profile legal challenge.
Schor said she “can expect to get heckled on a fairly daily basis”
because of her changing looks. In fact, she says people stop her to
ask, “What are you?” The 19-year-old said she does not want to have
those problems when she votes.
Schor said she is one of some 18,500 transgendered Pennsylvanians and
thinks that many of them will have problems on Election Day because
their names and bodies no longer “reasonably conform” to what their
home counties have on record. Asher Schor registered to vote as Devra
Schor before she began her testosterone treatments. Her driver’s
license identifies her as Devra.
Attorneys for the NAACP and other organizations that are trying to
stop Act 18’s implementation are using Schor and others to show the
state has not thought of everyone who might be impacted by the
requirements to present certain kinds of photo ID, or to “reasonably
conform” to the names and pictures on those identification cards.
In defending the new law, officials with the Pennsylvania Department
of State and PennDOT said every effort is being made to make sure
every voter gets the chance to cast a ballot Nov. 6.
Shannon Royer, DOS’s deputy secretary for external affairs and
elections, said on Friday that more than 700,000 mailings and inserts
have been sent to voters who could be most affected by the ID
requirements. The agency, he said, has also been doing extensive
outreach with food banks, the governor’s commissions on Latino and
Asian affairs, colleges and universities and the PA National Guard,
He said a $3.5 million television and radio voter education
advertising campaign two months before the election will begin “an
extensive, intense communications effort” to teach all voters about
the new requirements. There will also be automated phone calls and a
“well-funded” web campaign.
Royer said the state’s effort will be “far above and beyond what any
other state has done” to educate their residents about new voter ID
requirements. Pennsylvania is one of 11 states in the past two years
to enact voter ID laws.
Despite the state’s outreach efforts, 19-year-old Taylor Floria, a
West Grove, Chester County, resident who is autistic and said he is
prone to becoming anxious, worn out, and overwhelmed by too much
visual and audible stimulation, testified Friday that the new law
could be too much for people like him to navigate.
Noting a polling place’s bright lights and the unpredictability of
other voters, the straight-“A” Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School
student said “the polling environment is very hard to handle.”
He said his feeling is the same for Act 18.
“I find it to be very restrictive and unnecessary. The way it is set
up makes it very difficult to get (a legal ID),” he told Judge Robert
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