On a rainy day in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania NFLPA former players, AFL-CIO members, community activists, and community organizers got together for an event called My Vote My Right, to educate the public on the new voter ID laws instituted in Pennsylvania. There have been many studies on the effects of the new legislation on people's ability to vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law,
"Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by. At the same time, voter ID policies are far more costly to implement than many assume."
Robin Cole, former starting linebacker and member of the Steelers Super Bowl XIII and XIV teams came out to volunteer and speak out to make sure that the citizens and fans of Pittsburgh were able to learn about the new restrictions and obtain the proper identification - things needed to make their voices heard in the upcoming presidential election.
Robin talked about playing in the great city of Pittsburgh, becoming a citizen of Pittsburgh, raising his family in Pittsburgh, and feeling the obligation to make sure that all of the fans knew their rights and helping them to be able to cast their vote. Steeler fans came out, not only to make sure they registered and had the proper ID, but also to take a picture with this Steeler great.
There were many stories that played out during the day. One was of a 74-year-old woman who had learned about the new voter ID restrictions from her pastor at her church. She said that her pastor told everyone in his congregation to go down to the event to learn if they had the proper credentials so they could cast their vote, as many have in previous elections, without incident.
Then there was the story of 80-year-old Mrs. Foreman. While she had her birth certificate, it did not have the raised seal, a new requirement in Pennsylvania. After different government employees sent Mrs. Forman - mind you at 80-years-old, back and forth from the government building to PenDOT, she was finally able to get the help she needed at My Vote My Right. The volunteers there made sure she had the proper identification so she can vote, as she has for the last 30 years without issue.
At the end of the day, making sure that everyone who came out to the event got the proper education, and access to the right resources to get their Voter ID, so that they can cast their vote is the most important thing regardless of what side of the fence you stand on. On that rainy day in Pittsburgh volunteers answered the age old question "Am I my brother's keeper?" with a collective "YES WE ARE!"
Photos courtesy of Nolan Harrison III