In the 2000 election, the “must-win” swing state was Florida. In 2004, it was Ohio. In 2008, that do-or-die must-win swing state was Pennsylvania. On election night 2008, even though the night was only half over, I already knew it was over the moment it was announced Barack Obama had won Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes, because by that point, there was no longer any clear path to victory for McCain (Obama was so far ahead, he could have lost Florida and still won the election). And because of that, since then, the GOP has been pushing the most Draconian “Voter I.D.” legislation in the country in Pennsylvania. Republicans have been able to do so since taking control of the Pennsylvania State Legislature in 2010, coupled with their existing control of the governorship by the incredibly offensive Gov. John Corbett and his appointment of Republican “Secretary of State” (they call it a ”Commonwealth”) Carol Aichele.
If you aren’t aware of what’s going on in Pennsylvania right now regarding their “Voter ID” efforts, you’re easily forgiven since the story is not being carried on your evening news, and has thus far enjoyed a total media blackout on the Sunday politi-talk shows.
In every state, it is the duty of the “Secretary of State” to manage the elections process. SoS’s are not elected, they’re appointed by the Governor, and just as in 2000 with Florida’s “Katherine Harris” (who slobbered over Governor Bush like a dog in heat), and Ohio’s “Ken Blackwell” in 2004 (honorary co-chair of the Ohio Committee to re-elect George Bush), this year, Pennsylvania’s SoS is a hard Right Republican named Carol Aichele. This is what Aichele had to say to protesters last week protesting the number of people that would be disenfranchised by the new “Voter ID” program called “PennDoT”, which requires registered voters without a valid government issued photo ID to travel to their local DMV to get one:
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele had a message for the hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to rally against voter ID laws: “Go home” and find ways to make their fellow citizens comply with the state’s controversial law.
Estimated number of people without a “valid” form of government-issued photo ID in Pennsylvania: “1.3 Million” (or 14.4% of the population [ibid: Aichele to protesters]). Estimated number of those 1.3-Million that are currently Registered Voters? Over 758,000. EVEN the PA-SoS’s office estimated “only 1%” of ALL Registered Voters in PA do not have a valid government issued photo ID. That’s 88 THOUSAND registered voters. I remind you that 2004 was decided by 118,000 votes (2%) in Ohio, and a mere 363 votes in Florida in 2000.
Yes, “Go home” and start giving rides to 758,000 registered voters (or 88-thousand if you prefer Aichele’s own estimate). You’ve got a bus handy, right? And just who are these people without a valid ID? Seniors that no longer travel on their own, college students that don’t drive, poor people that take public transportation, even recently married/divorced women in the midst of changing their last name. And even if you HAVE one of the generally accepted forms of ID, they STILL may not accept it.
Last month, Pennsylvania GOP House Leader Mike Turzai made headlines when he openly admitted what we all knew: the reason they want the new Pennsylvania Voter ID law so badly is because it’s “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
I don’t think you can get any more blatant than that.
The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office has a “helpful” page on their website all about the new “PennDoT” voter ID program:
(Click to enlarge)
Just one problem: That “Espanol” link at the top for information about PA’s new “Voter ID” law… HASN’T WORKED IN MONTHS (ever?), and as of this writing, still does absolutely nothing when you click it. Hmmm.
Of course, Aichele’s office assures you (in the English version at least) that “no Registered voter will be denied the right to vote on election day if they don’t have an acceptable ID with them. Those people will be given “a provisional ballot” (the kind that only get counted if the race is close or contested).
The English language pdf on obtaining a DoS issued “Voter ID Card” states that they won’t be available until “the last week of August”. Not sure when Early Voting begins in PA, but a mere 8 weeks for 3/4 of a Million Registered voters to make arrangement to get to their nearest DMV (on a day it’s open) just so they can obtain a state-issued photo ID to guard against nonexistent “voter fraud”, seems a tad unreasonable. Some stats:
Number of persons convicted of voter fraud in Pennsylvania since the year 2004: 4
Number of persons convicted of attempting to vote pretending to be someone he or she was not since 2004: ZERO.
Approximate number of Pennsylvania voters who do not have a valid PA driver’s license yet are otherwise eligible to vote: 700,000.
This is a solution in search of a problem where none is to be found. Keep in mind that the people LEAST likely to be able to take time off from work to spend all morning at the DMV just to get a free Voter ID (though there are reports of some people being charged for their ID) just so they can do what they’ve already been doing for decades without incident, are going to be The Poor, mostly black or Hispanic, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. In order to qualify for a free “PennDoT” Voter ID, you must provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. And even that is no guarantee. The state just decertified the birth certificates of 120,000 Puerto Ricans living in Pennsylvania. I’m not kidding. This is not an accident. The only “Voter fraud” going on here is the attempted wholesale disenfranchisement of more than 5 million poor & minority voters across the country.
Recently, the PA governors’ office released “a list” that “wildly overstates” the number of “ineligible” voters on the voting roles. The Philli Enquirer newspaper found a number of problems with that Pennsylvania list:
Former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode is on the list as not having PennDot ID. He has had a Pennsylvania driver’s license for 50 years.
Goode’s son City Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. is also on the list. So are four of his Council colleagues – Dennis O’Brien, Brian O’Neill, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, and Marian Tasco. All have licenses.
In addition to the stated problem with people who use different first names on different documents, it appears the state’s computers had problems distinguishing names containing spaces, like Mary Ellen, or Van Dyke; names with hyphens, like Olivia Newton-John; and names that computers sometimes spell with spaces, like Mc Dougall.
In Philadelphia alone, more than 10,000 people whose names begin with “Mc” were listed as not having PennDot ID. They included state Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, a driver whose name is spelled Mc Caffery on the city’s voter rolls.
Names with apostrophes, like O’Brien and O’Neill, were especially troublesome because PennDot’s computer system doesn’t use apostrophes, according to David Burgess, a Department of State deputy secretary in charge of computer operations.
The Inquirer tested the state’s list by making random calls to registered voters in Philadelphia who were at least 80 years old. The demographic was chosen to gauge the impact of the law on would-be voters who might have the most difficulty getting to PennDot license centers to obtain photo ID.
A team of Inquirer reporters placed calls to 325 of those older voters listed as lacking PennDot ID. Out of 101 people interviewed, 76 said they already had PennDot identification, despite being on the state’s list. That’s 75 percent.
This is appalling. Unlike in Florida and Texas where their “Voter ID” bills could legally be challenged/blocked by the Federal Government, they have no such power over PA. Why? Because Southern states like Texas & Florida with a history of racial voter discrimination are subject to the 1964 Voting Rights Act. Pennsylvania is not, making it a ripe target for the GOP.
Since the Federal government does not have jurisdiction, it has fallen to The ACLU to challenge the new law in court on behalf of Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old great-great grandmother who marched with Martin Luther King Jr.. Ms.Applewhite, a housekeeper that never had a drivers license, recently had her purse stolen with her Social Security card in it. Adopted and twice married, proving Ms. Applewhite’s identity sufficiently to obtain a Voter ID card would be complicated and expensive… and totally unnecessary since the state has conceded in her case that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania” (ibid ACLU). Nor will they “offer any evidence that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue that “in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November.”
For a Party so big on “The Constitution”, citizen rights, and fearing an obtrusive “Big Government” that “can’t do anything right”, they sure seem awfully quick to trust the government here… at least when that government is run by Republicans and the payoff is theft of the White House.
Postscript: If you missed the “Opening Ceremonies” of the 2012 London Olympics Friday night, you missed an eleven-minute tribute to the NHS (“National Health Service”)… the British Socialized health care system… as one of their proudest accomplishments:
So the next time some wingnut tries to tell you how much the British hate their Marxists/Socialists/Commie government-run health care system, you now have photographic proof that they’re full of $#it.
(ADDENDUM: ThinkProgress reports, “Why Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Will Create Chaos On Election Day”. As they point out, the state is dumping the burden of providing all these ID’s in just two months time on the state’s DMV ["PennDoT"] at the same time they’ve slashed the number of Public employees to the lowest percentage in the nation.)
(ADDENDUM 2: The August 2nd Rachel Maddow Show provided a thorough examination of looming election chaos in Ohio this year, as the GOP’s “solution” to the long lines in 2004/2008 was to CUT the number of Early Voting days by three and exact severe “Voter ID” restrictions of their own:)
(UPDATE 8/16/2012 – Judge Upholds Pennsylvania Voter ID Law; Opponents To Appeal. – Judge says he considered partisan motivations and deemed it irrelevant.)
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