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 October 13, 2011

The City of Harrisburg has filed for bankruptcy.  Mired in disagreements about implementing Act 47 requirements which gut negotiated union contracts the Mayor and City Council have been at an impasse.

Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, running for MontCo Commissioners, released a non discrimination policy and were endorsed bby Equality Pennsylvania.

In Berks County Christian Leinbach, darling of the local Tea baggers, has erected billboards saying “promises made, promises kept” for his four years as County Commissioner.  The problem is he didn’t keep his central promise from four years ago.  Leinbach ran then criticizing the $80 million rainy day fund established and nourished by Judy Schwank and Tom Gajewski.  He promised to return those funds to the taxpayers via a tax decrease.  Not only did he not do that he never even introduced a resolution to do so.  Leinbach’s current campaign message is as hollow as his promises were four years ago.

As our state legislature is debating Marcellus shale impact fees several provisions being discussed are very disturbing.  One would allow forced pooling which seizes your rights as a property owner and transfers them to the gas companies.  The other would prohibit local governments from any restrictive ordinances targeting drilling.  This means your municipality has no say about what happens there.  Both of these efforts would severely reduce your rights in a “democracy.”  Wake up, democracy died in America.

Tim Burns and Steve Welch both are expected to officially enter the 2012 Senate race for Bob Casey’s seat.

Sen. Pat Toomey, after running for Senate promising to create jobs, voted against the American Jobs Act.  He’s more interested in keeping the rich rich than in getting you a job.

Patrick Murphy has raised a million bucks in his AG race.  The Pennsylvania Progressive Summit (no connection with us) will host an Attorney General debate in February.

The Obama Administration still has yet to prosecute a single crooked banker for the massive fraud which cost you your home.

Another of those pesky government regulations hampering business says restaurants must maintain refrigerated food at a certain temperature so it doesn’t spoil and kill you.

State Legislature Approves Austerity Budget

The State House approved the budget for the fiscal year beginning tomorrow following Senate passage earlier this week.  Gov. Corbett imposed a strict ceiling of $27.3 billion and refused to budge one penny.  This is in spite of increasing revenues.  Pennsylvania is currently sitting on a surplus of $700 million and another billion dollars would be available by the end of the fiscal year in July 2012.  Those funds would completely restore K12 and higher education funding slashed in austerity moves.

Remember the austerity measures are the result of decreased revenues caused by the spectacular failure of Republican economic policies and deregulation of the financial sector.  This budget is completely their responsibility.  Major cutbacks to poor people, disabled persons and other areas constitute a wholesale neglect of vital services which needy people, young people and the elderly depend.

The refusal to restore huge cuts as it became obvious revenues were improving proves this isn’t about money.  The funds are available.  This is about ideology, about slashing critical funding for programs critical to Pennsylvania’s future.  It is about taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, of providing a safety net for the poor, a future for our children.  It is about educating a workforce so the Commonwealth can attract good jobs in the future.

Mostly this about human decency.  A budget is a Governor’s moral statement, it tells us what he deems important.  Gov. Corbett is all about prisons.

Save the American Dream Rally-Harrisburg

More than a thousand people turned out in Harrisburg yesterday in support of workers and teachers in Wisconsin.  Rallies commenced in all 50 state capitols and other major cities including Philadelphia.  I attended the rally on the Capitol steps in Harrisburg where Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress emceed as workers and Rick Bloomingdale of the PA AFL-CIO spoke to the gathered audience.  Roughly forty or so Tea baggers congregated across the street protesting working people trying to save the American dream.  They even heckled the invocation.  I’ve never heard anyone heckle a prayer before.

The steps were packed with union workers, teachers and supporters of worker’s rights.  Many wore Badger red in support of the brave folks in Wisconsin battling snow and freezing weather to keep their American dreams.

A few pictures from the event: