“I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsibility that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised…[W]e have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that.” –Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-PA
Dear Mr. Metcalfe,
I am a Pennsylvania voter who has no photo ID. The reason I have no ID is complicated.
I have had an acquired neuro-immune illness, myalgic encephalomyelitis, since 2004. I am 37 years old; this illness cost me a career I loved five years ago. After I got sick, I kept working as long as I could, resting on the weekends as much as I could to hold onto my job. Eventually that wasn’t enough, and I had to stop working at my office and do so from home. Eventually that too wasn’t enough, and I had to work lying down, because my heart couldn’t pump enough blood to allow me to stay sitting up. And eventually even that wasn’t enough; I have been almost completely bedridden since Christmas 2007.
I moved to Pennsylvania in 2009, and have not been able to get a new ID since then.
I can’t get a new license because it would require 1. a “Medical Qualification Certificate” (as much as my doctor likes me – his office is the only place I leave the house to go, which he appreciates – if I can’t sit up for ten minutes, I’m going to flunk this one) and 2. a road test (I’m sure you can see why this isn’t going to fly either).
However, at this point it’s possible I could struggle through the process of getting a free state-issued ID with significant physical help from my husband, who works full-time and is my devoted full-time caretaker too, heavens love him. It would undoubtedly set me back pretty badly for a few weeks afterward to try to do that, but I’m the sort of person who is lucky to at least have all the necessary documents to get a photo ID on hand. But I’m not going to. You know why?
Because after having voted absentee last time, I’m in the process of getting set up as a permanent absentee voter. Doesn’t that make more sense for someone like me? Anyway, I say “in the process” because we sent the forms in a few months ago, and they lost the paperwork the first time. We called them when we didn’t hear anything for a while; otherwise I never would have gotten that ballot and I would have been disenfranchised. My husband took a second set of the forms to my doctor’s office, and then to the Board of Elections, and they say I’m squared away now. We’ll see if my ballot actually arrives.
Guess why we’re doing this? Guess what I don’t need to have to be a permanent absentee voter?
That’s right: a photo ID.
I expect you’ll want to get to fixing that oversight as soon as you can, in order to make disabled people’s lives more difficult than they already are.
But I guess you’re right – I guess I don’t have an ID because I’m just too lazy to go get one. All that work I did to hold onto my job after I fell ill – including working lying down for months on end – doesn’t count for anything, right? Won’t my doctor be pleased to know I don’t have a terrible, life-altering chronic illness for which there is no cure and no FDA-approved treatments, and I’m just lazy!
I’m feeling healthier already!
Yours Not Very Sincerely,
(Comments are disabled because the most stressful thing in the world for me is a political argument. Sorry.)