Let My People Vote
For Immediate Release
Contact: Bishop Dwayne Royster, 215-232-7697
POWER: An Interfaith Movement will gather at Noon, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, on the north side of City Hall plaza in Philadelphia for a press conference to lift up a faith voice to call on the State Supreme Court to strike down Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law that will heard that day. Clergy and lay leaders from POWER congregations from across the city will speak to the fact that that many of their members face potential disenfranchisement in November should this law stand. The press conference will also launch POWER’s “Let My People Vote” campaign – part of a national effort among faith-based organizing groups – which is aimed at ensuring maximum voter registration among the 25,000 Philadelphians who belong to POWER’s 37 member congregations.
“Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law is unnecessary – even the state Attorney General has admitted there have been no verified cases of in-person voter fraud. But it is also appears to be an insidious attempt to make it difficult for those on the margins of society – minorities, the old, the poor – from participating in our democracy” remarked Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER: An Interfaith Movement.
"Given the thousands of citizens who have now come out of the shadows to attest that the Voter ID law will cause them to be disenfranchised, it is unconscionable and immoral that Act 18 remain valid,” says Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church in Center City and POWER leader.
POWER – a non-partisan, interfaith community organizing effort in Philadelphia focused on issues of jobs and education – believes that we should be doing everything we can to increase civic engagement and citizenship, not erect more barriers to them. “POWER, like all responsible civic organizations, believes in safeguarding the integrity of elections,” says Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, of Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia, “but this law was rammed through in a partisan manner without any thoughtful planning around community education or smooth implementation.” Rabbi Grabelle Hermann added, "The traditions of the prophets teach us not to oppress the weak, orphan, the widow -- the most vulnerable in the society. But that is what this law would do."
Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is also costly. “At a time when Harrisburg is reducing funds for public schools and basic services, it seems strange that the state legislature is in a rush to spend $3 million to produce and distribute photo identification cards to fix a problem that doesn’t seem to exist,” commented Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, pastor of St. Martin in the Field Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill and co-chair of the POWER board of directors.
Following speeches and presentations from POWER leaders, and testimonies from potentially disenfranchised voters, POWER will formally kick off its Let My People Vote Campaign to ensure 100% voter registration among its 37 member congregations.