More Than 180 Voter Suppression Laws Proposed

By jamar Thrasher, Third and State

We have written a lot about Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law, which has been put on hold by the courts for the upcoming election. Turns out we’re not alone when it comes to voting suppression.

That may not be news to you, but you may be surprised to know that more than 180 voter suppression laws were proposed in 2011 and 2012, according to The New York Times. These are laws defined as restricting or limiting voter access based on a myriad of qualifications.

Among the voter suppression laws enacted over the past two years: reductions to early voting, tougher voting rules for ex-convicts, limitations to voter registration drives, and (drum roll, please) voter identification requirements. The data were collected and analyzed by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

From the Times report:

A wave of at least 180 proposed laws tightening voting rules washed over 41 statehouses in 2011 and 2012, by the count of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Only a fraction of those bills passed and survived the scrutiny of the courts, but the new rules cover voters in 13 states, several quite populous, in time for next month’s election. More laws are to start afterward.

Partisans and experts are arguing, over the airwaves and in the courts, about the effects of all this on voter turnout, for which few studies exist. (The most rigid voter ID laws are believed to affect about 10 percent of eligible voters, said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center.)

New Pennsylvania Voter ID AD compares love of country with possesion of Photo ID

After fumbling on the previous Pennsylvania Voter ID AD, which to say the least was little more than a donation to a consulting firm stocked with GOP Staffers, the Corbett Administration is spending valuable Commonwealth resources on a new AD, valuable resources which would be better spent on education. However, the Republicans have to work extra hard to spin the bill that, according to Majority Leader Turzai, will “allow Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania

This time the Corbett Administration decides to level the charge that you are unpatriotic if you can’t furnish one of the Voter ID Bills approved ID’s:

“If you love your country, it’s time to show it (stated by a women holding a state ID) (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/voter_id_patriotic_ad.php?m=1)”

Kevin Deely, a Democratic hopeful for State House in the 131st, told ProgressMo Shuffle that the commercial:

“…pours salt in the wound and is a slap in the face to every voter, especially our seniors and the disabled, who have to jump through enough hoops already on a daily basis.”

Comparing a Photo ID to loving ones country is quite a stretch for an administration that is working extra hard to hold true to Gov. Corbett’s desire to keep the vote down in Philadelphia. During a 2010 speech at a gathering outside Philadelphia the Governor stated. (Video of Speech)

Will Dunbar, Democratic Candidate in the 177th and vocal critic of the voter suppression attempts of the Pennsylvania GOP told ProgressMo Shuffle that love of country is not an excuse to place obstacles in the way of voters:

“Once again the Republicans have found a way to spin the voter suppression bill. This Voter ID Bill negatively affects seniors, minorities and students. Hopefully our Supreme Court Justices will see it that way on September 13th.”

I for one do not have an issue with the idea of a photo ID to vote. I actually have found myself in agreement with an argument laid out by Norman Ornstein of the Conservative American Enterprise Institute in his call for a Voters Right Act of 2012. This act would require documentation used for obtaining identification for voting free, requiring a separate federal ballot, changing election day to the weekend and other common sense reforms to how we access the polls in the United States (Read the Full Article)

As stated by Ryan J. Reilly of Talking Points Memo, The Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill, which could affect:

“More than 1.6 million Pennsylvania voters….including more than 1,000 voters who are in the state’s “Voter Hall of Fame” because they voted in 50 consecutive elections. (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/voter_id_patriotic_ad.php?m=1)”

is not about a Photo ID. It is about a party and ideology beholden to Anti-Tax Pledges, Corporate Welfare and fear.

Not a fear of voter fraud that was so nonexistent that Governor Corbett didn’t prosecute one case while Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Instead a fear of an ever-changing demographic that is tired of a never changing ideology. A demographic that is growing tired of those who are quick to shout “USA” and “God Bless America” while attacking truths we all hold self-evident.

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.