Moore bent over a folding table and carefully filled out the form a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation worker had given her, in the first line she would stand in that day. Her ticket was time-stamped 11:38 a.m. and gave an estimated wait time of 63 minutes, which, said Moore, didn’t seem so bad.
She had been registered to vote since she was 19, and now she was 54.
“I’m on vacation this week,” she said, “so I thought, ‘Let me just get this done now,’ because by the time we get to November, you won’t be able to get in this place.”
She looked around. Nearly all of the 200 plastic chairs in the long room were filled with her fellow citizens — people trying to get licenses to drive mixed in with people trying to get licenses to vote. The bin on the wall that held applications for the “Pa. voting ID” was empty.
When the state’s legislature in March enacted one of the toughest ID laws in the nation, with the support of no Democrats and all but three Republicans, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said it would “prevent people from cheating in our elections” in a state where Democrats have a registration advantage of 1.1 million people. The Republican majority leader, Mike Turzai, then boasted that the new law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win” the state, which inflamed an already charged debate.
The governor estimated that 99 percent of the state’s 8.3 million voters already had an acceptable PennDOT ID, and other Republicans questioned how any responsible grown-up wouldn’t already have the right card, in a society where photo ID is required to use a credit card or buy alcohol or cash a check.
Cheryl Ann Moore was such a grown-up.
She owns her home, a small rowhouse in South Philadelphia. She’s held the same job for 24 years, as a custodian at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where she works the 4-a.m.-to-noon shift. To get there, she takes the bus in the middle of the night. She doesn’t have a driver’s license, like thousands of working people in a city with one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country.
She doesn’t have a bank account. “I pay cash or do layaway,” said Moore. “No credit cards; they’re dangerous.”
On Thursday, she slept in, until about 7 a.m., then got herself dressed to spend the day in Center City in a pair of pressed gray capris, a pink-and-white T-shirt and a pair of pink patent leather sandals.
She stopped at work to pick up the paycheck she gets every two weeks, then went to cash it at the same place she’s been going for years.