West Philadelphia resident Zakiyyah Abdul-Raheem is making sure that all senior citizens’ votes will count at the polls in November, through her organization “Momma’s and Poppa’s Seniors for the Obama Team.” The organization has been busily informing the senior community about Pennsylvania voter ID law.
“During President Obama’s first election, I was concerned about the seniors not having a prominent role, because many of the things that he was proposing affected the senior citizens,” Abdul-Raheem said. “We are one of the most stable voting blocks, so I wanted to start an organization that will address our needs. While the organization is geared toward senior citizens, we also do other things within the community.”
In Pennsylvania in 2008, voters between the ages 50 and 64 favored President Barack Obama, giving him 57 percent of their votes, to 42 percent over GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. Voters 65 and older were evenly split, with 49 percent voting for Obama and 50 percent for McCain, according to exit polls.
The upcoming election will be a first for Pennsylvania — in that for the first time voters will be required to show a valid, state-approved photo identification before they are permitted to cast their ballot. Advocates say the measure is designed to prevent voter fraud. Critics say the measure will keep the young, the poor, senior citizens and minorities from the polls.
As many as 750,000 individuals statewide could have trouble voting this fall because they don’t have a current PennDOT photo ID, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
“What we have been doing is making phone calls and going out into the community, to make sure that people will go to the polls in November,” Abdul-Raheem said. “Instead of being discouraged about the new voter ID law, we are going to fight by making sure all seniors have a state-approved photo identification. With this particular election, there will be some roadblocks, so we just want to make sure everyone is informed and prepared.”
In addition to informing the community about the upcoming election, Abdul-Raheem recently introduced first lady Michelle Obama at a re-election rally in Philadelphia on Aug. 9. The rally, which was called “It Takes One,” was held at the Bobby Morgan Arena on the campus of University of the Sciences.
“This was the first time that I ever met her,” she said. “It’s a moment in my life that I will never forget. It was an honor to introduce her. We are doing everything that we can to make sure that the first lady and the president remain in office for a second term. It won’t be easy, but it can be done. The state of Pennsylvania can try to discourage us from going to the polls due to the new law, but they will not win this fight.”