David Bullock on Voter ID, Organizing for 2012

I sat down with Rev. David Bullock, President of the Detroit Chapter of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, yesterday in Philadelphia.  He was there to speak to the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and he electrified the audience.  Here is our interview:

Bullock spoke at length about the voter suppression efforts in  many states attributed to GOP legislation on Voter ID.  Republicans are going to great lengths to disenfranchise Democratic voters in advance of the 2012 election.  The explanation that they are preventing voter impersonation at the polls is nonsensical because it is very rare.

County election services offices in Pennsylvania are very successful at weeding out those people who, for various reasons, many of them comical, register to vote as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse or whatever.  Every voter registration form filled out, by law, is required to be submitted to a County Elections Services Department.  There the information is vetted by employees who match either Social Security or drivers license numbers with state databases to certify a person’s identity.  At polling places voters are required to sign books next to the signature on file so precinct workers can ascertain the veracity of their identity.

Imagine trying to impersonate another voter and getting to the point of actually entering the voting precinct.  There you must then accurately duplicate the signature on record to the satisfaction of the poll workers.  This is difficult and why it is so rare for anyone to fraudulently impersonate another voter.  It is so rare Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele testified that she could not cite a single case of it in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile Gov. Tom Corbett told the press recently, in attempting to explain the necessity for the Voter ID law he signed, that some precincts in the state had reported 112% voter turnout.  State records show NO such instance EVER happening.  Republicans in Harrisburg are willing to lie to support their voter suppression tactics.

We know this because they’ve engaged in it before.  In the run up to his election for Governor Corbett was infamously quoted as urging his fellow Republicans to suppress voter turnout in large urban areas, traditionally Democratic.  The fact he appointed Aichele as his Secretary of State, in charge of all voting in the Commonwealth, is indicative of his intentions because of her previous experience disenfranchising voters.

Carol Aichele was Chair of the Chester County Commissioners who were sued (Englich et al v. Chester County) when they moved a polling place intentionally in order to discourage turnout from minority students enrolled at traditionally Black Lincoln University.  After moving that precinct far from campus Black students were forced to wait up to seven hours in a pouring rain to vote in 2008.  Following the election Aichele and her cohorts were successfully sued by the ACLU.  The result was the moving of the polling place even further from campus.

For this she was promoted to the post of Sec. Of State by Tom Corbett.  Even then she was unable to cite a single example of successful voter impersonation before a legislative panel discussing the Voter ID legislation.  It passed a Republican controlled House and Senate in spite of the facts.

A case involving defunct activist group ACORN is often cited by conservatives as proof of the necessity of this law.  That argument is false because of the facts.  As I noted earlier, state law requires that every voter registration application collected must be submitted.  This is to prevent partisan activists from simply discarding the forms of those they registered for a Party different from theirs.  It’s a good rule.

ACORN hired people all across Pennsylvania cities in 2008 to register minority voters.  For this James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart destroyed them through doctored videos.  When ACORN officials went through the forms submitted to them they found suspiciously fraudulent applications and submitted them, as required by law, but with the caveats that they thought they were suspicious.  Some of those people who submitted those forms to ACORN were prosecuted for those actions.

ACORN did nothing wrong and the system worked exactly as it was designed to work and the fraudulent voter registration applications were discovered and no one ever gained access to the polls as a result.  In other words, the old system works very effectively.  This means no new legislation was needed.

So why was Voter ID passed?  Its intention is to disenfranchise traditionally Democratic voting blocks:  the elderly, poor, urban residents, the disabled and students.  700,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a government issued ID.  Many groups, such as the Amish, culturally don’t believe in them.  Urban residents who do not own vehicles have no need of them.  Many citizens have a suspicion about being required to have and produce on demand government papers.  These requirements harken back to dark days of fascist and Communist governments.

David Bullock spoke about the danger such disenfranchisement could cause.  When potentially, millions of voters could be forced from exercising their legal franchise this fall violence could erupt.  People take their rights very seriously.  Republicans are trying to steal an election as they suspiciously attempted to do in the past.  In 2004 the exit polls statewide showed more support for John Kerry, for example, than results tabulated by electronic voting machines and other measures reported.  The DRE voting machines have been proven to be hacked easily and vote totals altered.  Allegations of such successful operations in Ohio probably swung the 2004 race for George W. Bush.

News & Notes March 27, 2012

As we near the one fourth mark of the year this also means the end of the first quarter fundraising period for federal candidates.  This means our inboxes will be full of emails asking for contributions.  Campaigns cost money so give until it hurts.  We’ve seen what the alternative is…  That’s far more painful.

I’ll be in Philadelphia tomorrow for an interview so blogging will be light.  Unfortunately, with the new texting law blogging while driving is against the law, lol.  I do so wish there was a train!

The Steel City Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Erin Molchany for Chelsa Wagner’s House seat.  Her opponent once stole $50,000 from Allegheny County taxpayers and reneged on $25,000 in taxes to the IRS.  This one’s a no brainer unless you sit on the PA Dems Executive Committee.

Bill Clinton endorsed Kathleen Kane for AG.  The co-owner of an anti-worker, anti-union trucking company co chaired Hillary’s presidential campaign in her region in 2008.  The Clintons are famous for their loyalty.  Its just too  bad they aren’t showing that same loyalty to their union friends.

Meanwhile the AFL-CIO endorsed Patrick Murphy for the post.  If you’re a working person there’s no choice in this primary.  For some insane reason they also endorsed Tim Holden after swearing they wouldn’t following his votes against working people.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is conducting its 40th anniversary state convention in Philadelphia this week.  Speaking tomorrow will be D. Alexander Bullock, Chapter President of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Foundation in Detroit.  I’ll be interviewing him following his speech about voting rights, union organizing rights, voter education and voting registration.

The Critz campaign says their internal polling has them within 7 points of Jason Altmire.  That still spells defeat.

I applied, yet again, to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department for funds owed me from years ago.  They advertise these unclaimed monies periodically and a relative let me know I was on the list.  I applied for my money two years ago and they never responded.  Rob McCord, I want my money and I want it now.

He’d better listen to me because Pat Robertson says I’m possessed.  Heaven knows what I might do…   Oops, I meant hell.

People on the right wing are asking what makes the Trayvon Martin case national news.  it’s national news because of the Stand Your Ground Law and the fact the local police department didn’t do anything against a man who stalked, attacked then murdered a teenager for the crime of walking while Black.  If you cannot understand how this is major news you are dumb and ignorant.

The Pennsylvania Civil Rights Network has some details on the lawsuit against Tom Corbett filed for his corruption while Attorney General.  Juicy stuff.

Activist Roxanne Pauline shot this video of HHS Regional manager Joanne Grassi speaking recently in Scranton:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Marches For Jobs

As the state and national situation for working people grows dimmer and dimmer union members in Pennsylvania are rallying for jobs this Labor Day weekend.  The nation’s biggest deficit is in jobs and the people are angry and getting angrier as elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington keep eliminating jobs instead of creating them.

From the unions:

WASHINGTON — Unions in Pittsburgh are bringing a special focus on jobs and the unemployed to their Labor Day parade this year, dubbing the event a “March for Jobs.” Organizers expect more than 70,000 people to march in Monday’s event, but they’ve made clear to politicians perceived to be hostile to the labor movement that they will be turned away.

“This year we are inviting union and non-union, laid-off, unemployed and underemployed workers and their families to march with us on the eve of President Obama’s much anticipated announcement of a jobs program aimed at putting America back to work,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County (Pa.) Labor Council.

“We will be marching to show President Obama we are behind all serious efforts to create jobs and encourage him to pull out all the stops by putting the power of the federal government fully behind an aggressive jobs program,” Shea added.

Earlier this week, a group of union officials in Wisconsin made headlines for barring GOP politicians from marching in the Labor Day parade in Wausau, Wis. The labor council reversed its decision after Wausau’s mayor said the city would not co-sponsor an event that bans individuals based on party affiliation.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO spokesman Marty Marks said that only friends of the labor movement, regardless of political party, are invited to march in the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade. The local labor council reimburses the city for parade-related expenses.

About six Republican politicians were invited to march this year, along with a larger number of Democratic officials. Invited guests include U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R), U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) and state Sen. John Pippe (R-Allegheny).

Two prominent GOP politicians who were not invited to march were U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett. When asked what the labor council would do if they said they wished to participate, Marks replied, “We would politely decline their participation.”

In fact, the Allegheny County Labor Council has already turned down Joshua Wander, the sole GOP candidate for Pittsburgh City Council. Shea told Wander that the parade was invitation-only and the council had already endorsed his opponent, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Many candidates do march,” Wander told the newspaper. “I not only wanted to walk as a candidate, but I also wanted to walk for the Republican Party.”

In 2009, Vice President Joe Biden marched in the Pittsburgh parade.

Marks said that while the Labor Day event always features unemployed workers marching with their affiliated unions, this is the first year there will be a special place for the unemployed in the parade to emphasize the need for job creation.

“We represent workers, not just union workers. The work we do helps all workers, and we don’t want these people forgotten,” said Marks, addding, “We want to put the focus back where it needs to be. It needs to be on creating jobs, and helping these people we want to feature in our parade because they deserve it. They’re working Americans who want to work. America wants to work, Pennsylvania wants to work, and we want people to know it and not forget it.”

The Pittsburgh parade kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, preceded by a press conference with unemployed workers at 9:30 a.m.

Rick Smith Show Will Stream AFL-CIO Convention

The Rick Smith Show will web stream next week’s Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention live from Monday through Thursday.  I have prior commitments scheduled before I knew the dates of this event so I won’t be able to cover it.  The Rick Smith Show airs on WHYL radio in Harrisburg every weekend.  Longtime distinguished AFL-CIO President Bill George is retiring and his successor will be determined at this convention.  Tune in to follow events.

Bill George Announces His Retirement

Bill George, the charismatic President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO announced he is retiring while appearing on The Rick Smith Show last weekend.  He has led the union organization for some years and is a fantastic speaker and leader for workers across the Commonwealth and the country.  This is a loss for Pennsylvania though Bill certainly has earned the opportunity to do the things he wishes in life as he contemplates the next phase of his life.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO without Bill George is something that’s difficult to imagine, Bill George has been the face and voice of workers here for so long and so strongly I can’t imagine him not being there at rallies, events and on campaigns for working people.

Of course he isn’t all of the organization but his strong leadership has been remarkable.  Secretary-Treasurer Rick Bloomingdale and others have been a strong team.  Good luck Bill and I hope retirement is as exciting as your career helping the people of Pennsylvania has been.