Since Wednesday's court ruling, Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law, which could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of predominantly Democratic voters, now looks more likely than not to be in place on Election Day. So Thursday night, The Ed Show looked at what voting rights groups are doing to help make sure everyone can cast a ballot.
It's a huge challenge. Voters who lack an ID—estimated at as many as 758,000, or 9 percent of the state—need to assemble several types of docuemtnation including a birth certificate, then find time to get to the DMV in order to get an ID before the election.
Zach Stallberg of the Committee of 70, a Philadelphia-based good-government group, said as many as 145 organizations, including the NAACP, the ACLU, bar associations, and neighborhood groups, have come together to start work.
"We are runnig an aggressive, all-out drive to make sure that people know what they need," Stallberg said. "We're knocking on doors, we're driving them to the transportation centers, we're helping counsel them through the process."
Stallberg added: "We're doing everything possible in a nonpartisan way to make sure that as many people as possible can vote."
Meanwhile on the other side of the state in Allegheny County, Steven Singer, a teacher, told Ed he'd started a petition on the issue, which had gained 2300 signatures in two weeks. Singer is calling on local election officials not to enforce the ID law.
Singer said the law "violates people's civil rights," adding: "The parents of the kids I teach are adversely affected by this law, and I just can't sit by and let that happen. These people deserve the right to vote, it's that simple."
The Obama campaign so far has been relatively quiet about Pennsylvania's voting law, for reasons that aren't clear. "Obama does have people assigned to voter ID in Pennsylvania," Stallberg said. "We just haven't seen much of the result."
The stakes are high. President Obama won Pennsylvania relatively comfortably last time around, but it's expected to be closer this time. And if hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters are barred from voting, that could make all the difference.
"This is gonna be one of the biggest political lifts when it comes to advocacy I think we've ever seen in contemporary times," said Ed Schultz. "And if it doesn't happen, I'm not convinced that President Obama can win Pennsylvania."