PA Dept of State Still Has Voter ID Cards on Counter

While I was waiting for campaign finance reports this afternoon I snapped this picture of voter ID information cards.  They were on the counter at the reception area of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation (BCEL).  Why are they there when the courts ruled voters do not need to produce one tomorrow?  The Corbett Administration has refused to comply with demands they stop trying to inform voters otherwise.  If I’m an uninformed voter (in other words a Republican) and I’m in that office I’d assume by these that I need an ID to vote tomorrow.

BCEL Makes Online Search Engine Useless

BCEL is a division of the PA Department of State in charge of elections and campaign finance.  They used to have a nice online search engine to find campaign finance reports.  Recently they changed the entire thing making it well nigh impossible to use.  They completely eliminated the ability to search by contributor for example.  Trying to find a candidate’s reports is between very difficult and not possible.

I did one search recently (the candidate’s name was unique by the way) and had to pour through ten pages of results before finding the name.  When at last I did none of the reports would open.

Is Gov. Gasbag purposely making searching campaign finance reports impossible?  Why should anyone have to drive to Harrisburg when it should all be available at the touch of a mouse (or finger these days)?

Carol Aichele is Secretary of State and must order BCEL to return to its old search engine process.  This is anti-democratic.

PA Supremes Hear Voter ID Today

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, sitting in Philadelphia, hears arguments for and against Voter ID this morning.  The six members of the state appellate body are evenly split 3-3 by political party.  Meanwhile federal courts are striking down similar laws in various other states.  Ohio’s refusal to allow early voting is also being challenged by a federal court.

Voting rights are under attack by those claiming impersonation at polls is a problem.  No case has been filed in Pennsylvania in living memory so conservatives decided to use that rampant fraud to disenfranchise 758,000 eligible voters.  It’s just coincidence (tongue in cheek comment) that most of those without a photo ID are, demographically, Democrats.

One of the central arguments against the law will be the charge that Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson cited a bigoted case from 1869 to justify his ruling.  That case Patterson v. Barlow held that ruffians and degenerates (as considered by those outside Philadelphia) weren’t worthy of voting.  The new law is similar in that it was passed by Pennsylvanians outside Philly to, largely, disenfranchise Philadelphia voters.  Studies show that up to 43% of voters in the City of Brotherly Love don’t have acceptable ID.

Should the Supreme Court fail to over ride Voter ID opponents have little time to go to federal court.  A deadlock along party lines would affirm the bigoted Commonwealth Court ruling and uphold Voter ID.  If Chief Justice Ron Castille rules with his Democratic colleagues (he did so on legislative reapportionment) instead of his fellow Republicans the law goes down and the right to vote is restored.  A federal court could issue an injuntion preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing the law November 6th.

Meanwhile delusional Secretary of State Carol Aichele is claiming that Voter ID will actually increase turnout.  How you do that by suppressing the vote is hysteria.  Perhaps she is eligible for mental health assistance.  Oh wait, those state services have been gutted by Gov. Corbett.  I suppose there’s no help available for her.  Maybe returning to Chester County where she has a history of suppressing the African-American vote on a much smaller scale will serve her better.

Pennsylvania Will be the New Florida in Election Turmoil

Remember the debacle in Florida in 2000?  Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris became the poster person for election fraud as she stole the election for George W. Bush.  Jeb Bush, as Governor, had disenfranchised tens of thousands of Blacks for having the same surnames as convicted felons.  Then the battles of hanging chads, uncounted votes and other controversies were settled by the Supreme Court.

The national election hung on the outcome of the Florida controversy and this year Pennsylvania could be the center of controversy and scrutiny due to our Voter ID law.  As of yet no one really knows how many eligible voters will be turned away at the polls because they can’t produce an acceptable photo ID.  This includes 25% of those in the Pennsylvania Voters Hall of Fame, those who have voted in every election for fifty years.  It also includes legislators and one Congressional candidate.

Voter ID mostly disenfranchises minorities and the elderly.  Poor people who live in urban areas have no reason for photo ID’s.  The very poor don;t use banks, don’t drive and don’t have ID’s.  The elderly in nursing homes have mostly given up driving privileges and have trouble even getting to a drivers license center where they’re likely to be charged $13.50 by PennDOT for an ID which is supposed to be free.

Nine counties don’t have any photo centers at all, others perhaps one.  This makes it hard for those needing the ID’s to get there.  Once they do they’re often being turned away for having proper documentation.  VoterID could cause a million eligible voters to be turned away.  How many civil rights lawsuits will be filed on November 7th?  If you turned me away from exercising my constitutional right I’d have a civil rights lawyer suing your ass.

Stupid people are being quoted as saying you need an ID for everything these days:  flying (reality check, poor people don’t fly), banking (poor people don’t have bank accounts), sending something via UPS (a lie Carol Aichele) or any other number of examples.  The fact is voting is a basic constitutional right and none of these other examples equate with that status.  Millions of people exist and conduct their lives without ID’s.  Requiring one for voting comprises election fraud.

Commonwealth Court will release its decision in a lawsuit filed by the PA NAACP and ACLU-PA this Friday.  It will be appealed to the state Supreme Court by the losing party.  If it is not nullified or repealed before November Pennsylvania is likely to become the focus of a nation on November 7th.  

Provisional ballots will be offered to voters turned away but these folks will have but ten days to produce an acceptable ID or their ballot will be disallowed.  Absentee ballots are not covered, in most part, by the new law.  Laws covering the use of absentee ballots require their use only if you cannot physically get to the polls or will be out your voting area the entire day.  Expect Republicans to enforce these provisions to prevent many voters from trying to get around the VoterID law via absentee ballots.

Republican voters tend to use absentee ballots far more than Democratic voters.  If that changes this year that would be a VoterID indication.  Thousands of provisional and absentee ballots waiting to be counted might mean Pennsylvania will not be decided on election day.  Court battles over those ballots will be Florida 2000 revisited.  Secretary of State Carol Aichele will be the new Katherine Harris and our state will be the focus and laughingstock of the nation.

News & Notes July 31, 2012

Another month melts away as we race through 2012.  There are less than 100 days to the election and candidates are active sending solicitations for contributions before the final Labor Day push.

Mitt Romney continued his gaffe filled foreign tour underscoring his inability to understand diplomacy.  If President this guy could tick off more of the world than even GW Bush did.

The Supreme Court will hear the Prop 8 case on marriage equality.  A decision could make same sex marriage legal nationally.  That’s the only way we’ll ever see it here in Pennsyltucky.

Bucks Countians hung a large banner from I-95 telling Congressman Fitzpatrick to end tax cuts for the rich.

Questions arose in Commonwealth Court about the state’s readiness, and ability, to provide photo ID’s for voters.  What, just because neither the Governor nor his Secretary of State can answer basic questions about the law?  Why should we be surprised.  PennDOT wasn’t ready either.  This law has been a catastrophic example of election rigging.  If it throws Pennsylvania to Romney it could make him President by disenfranchising people from their fundamental right to vote.  By the way Sec. Aichele, one does NOT need an ID to ship a package via UPS.  That was one more lie she told at her press conference last week.

Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin faced a preliminary hearing while she continued saying the charges against her are a witch hunt.  Why then did two aides testify she ordered them to do political work on state time?  It’s exactly why her sister, former Sen. Jane Orie, is now in prison.

Cash grants to the poor were discontinued this week.  Republicans have now thrown 80,000 kids off Medicaid, 70,000 adults off Adult Basic, slashed food stamps, day care, services for the mentally and physically disabled and cut $2 billion from education.  Are these your priorities?  If not stop voting Republican.  Some folks are questioning whether Gov. Gasbag hates women.

Catholics won’t sell a 44 bedroom mansion it owns because the buyers are a gay couple who might allow same sex marriages on the property.  Someday the church might come out of the Dark Ages.  Don’t hold your breath waiting though.  The proceeds from any sale should go towards settling lawsuits by people molested by the Church and not for legal fees defending pedophile priests.

Democrats will include a marriage equality plank to their platform in Charlotte.  Bill Clinton is going to nominate Barack Obama.  I hope they have one of those orchestras which begins playing when someone goes over their time limit.

The Green Party of PA turned in their nominating petitions today, a day early, for their presidential ticket.  I signed the petition.  I think the state’s ballot access laws are terrible and anti-democratic.  Let’s hope Democrats don’t purge us of the opportunity to vote for real liberals come November.

Former CNN personality (it isn’t really a news network) TJ Holmes was stopped for driving while Black.  He Tweeted the entire experience.  In this age of instant communications you’d think cops would at least try to be a bit smarter.

It turns out Mitt Romney likes socialized medicine.

SCOTUS actually ruled a while back that lying is protected free speech.  It’s the only reason the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Faux News are on the air.  Not so in Canada however.  No license for Fox there.

kudos to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for this session.  Why can’t we have a Senator like that?  (Because liberals stayed home and Joe Sestak lost so they could send President Obama a “message.)

AFL-CIO: 1.6M Without Photo ID

A day after Carol Aichele maintained the number of Pennsylvanians without photo ID is “about 85,000” an AFL-CIO study it is more like 1.6 million including 43% of Philadelphians.  First the Department of State and Gov. Corbett maintained only about 1% of the state didn’t possess the required ID for voting.  Then the number grew to 758,000.  Then yesterday Aichele told the press that figure was vastly overestimated.  Even the Pennsylvania Dept. of State can’t say for sure what it is so who really knows?

Here’s the bottom line:  if but one eligible, qualified voter is turned away on November 6th this is election fraud.  One vote can decide a local election.  Every vote counts and every voter has a fundamental right to vote.  It matters none that you need an ID to cash a check or, as Aichele said (I plan on checking this) to send a package via UPS.  The difference:  voting is a fundamental, constitutional right.  No one has a constitutional right to use UPS.  A bank is a business and not covered by the Bill of Rights.  The BoR was directed at government and restricts THEIR actions, it has nothing to do with businesses or private individuals.

If we lose our right to vote we lose all of our other freedoms and rights.  Where are the Tea Party hypocrites waving their constitutions?  Why weren’t they there yesterday crying for our lost rights?

From the AFL-CIO:

The number of Pennsylvanians who might not have the photo identification necessary to vote this November has more than doubled: at least 1,636,168 registered voters, or 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters, may not have valid PennDOT-issued ID, according to new data obtained by City Paper. In Philadelphia, an enormous 437,237 people, or 43 percent of city voters, may not possess the valid PennDOT ID necessary to vote under the state’s controversial new law.

The number of voters who will lack proper ID is indeed indeed impossible to determine: Some voters without PennDOT may be inactive, or have a valid form of federal or student identification, while others without proper ID may not have yet registered to vote.

“The database was never meant to say this is how many people don’t have IDs,” says Winkler, emphasizing that this office is focused on ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have the proper ID in November. “You guys want specific numbers that don’t exist, and those numbers change on a daily basis.”

But it is the state’s very inability to determine a final estimate of just how many Pennsylvanians might be impacted by the law that has fueled criticism. Initially, the state said that only 1 percent lacked valid ID. On July 3, that number skyrocketed when the Pennsylvania Secretary of State announced that 758,939 registered voters in the state, or 9 percent, may not have PennDOT IDs. In Philadelphia, 186,830 registered voters were not found in the PennDOT database, or 18 percent.

Whatever the exact number that could lack IDs is, it appears to be many, many times larger than original state estimates.

“The reality is that thousands more Philadelphians will be impacted by the voter ID law than was originally maintained by the State Department,” says Ellen Kaplan of the good government group Committee of Seventy, which is working to help people get valid ID. “Even taking the lowest possible number, it’s a huge hurdle to overcome.”

Pennsylvania’s contentious law has become the centerpiece of a heated national fight over voter suppression ahead of November’s presidential election. And the naked partisanship of Pennsylvania Republicans has contributed to the state law’s national notoriety. Late last month, House Majority leader Mike Turzai boasted (video) that the law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

And two weeks ago, I broke the news that the Corbett administration had awarded a $250,000 voter ID PR contract to the Bravo Group, a firm run by Mitt Romney fundraiser and longtime state GOP leader Chris Bravacos. On Friday, Talking Points Memo described how six people working on that contract all have GOP ties.

The Department of Justice Pennsylvania inquiry marks an intensification of federal scrutiny of voter ID laws. Justice had already moved to block laws in two Southern states that, because of a Jim Crow-era history of voter suppression, are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval of election-rule changes. Pennsylvania is not subject to Section 5 preclearance, but is, like any state, subject to Section 2 of the Act, which “prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups.”

On Friday, state officials seemed in a panic, announcing that new cards only requiring a birth date, Social Security number and two proofs of residency will be made available by the last week of August.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele is also coming under scrutiny. During the 2008 elections, Aichele and a fellow Republican Chester County Commissioner were accused of refusing to locate a polling place at historically black Lincoln University in an effort to suppress the vote. The county later settled a federal lawsuit.

“Hundreds of voters,” according to the Delaware County Times, “waited as long as six to eight hours – in the rain at times – to cast their ballots.”

The progressive organization Keystone Progress has called for Aichele’s resignation.

Corbett Stipulation: No Cases of Voter Fraud

As protesters massed before a giant, inflatable liberty bell brought by Congressional candidate Gene Stilp, the Corbett Administration confessed in a court document that no cases of voter fraud exist in Pennsylvania.  The stipulation is part of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of PA along with the NAACP and other parties.  It is a sworn court document.  It means they have no valid, reasonable legal defense for spending millions of tax dollars enacting a poll tax.

Sec. of State Carol Aichele, who infamously moved a polling place in Chester County so Black students at Lincoln University couldn’t vote, is enforcing this law.  Is Carol Aichele a racist?  That’s a question I wasn’t able to ask her yesterday after her press secretary cut off my line of questioning.  It is one she must answer however.  She is systematically disenfranchising thousands of African-Americans across the Commonwealth.

I challenged her talking point yesterday when she tried to explain away the lack of cases.  Her only response to me was to repeat her talking point.  She’s a liar.

When she used an anecdote about her time as Chester County Commissioner to relate an instance where someone attempted to impersonate a voter and was challenged by a poll worker I pointed out she had just proven the old system worked.  She didn’t like our exchange and was rescued before I completely eviscerated her before the state’s media.

Here’s an interview I did with Rev. David Bullock about Voter ID:

Aichele Cites Discredited O’Keefe Video For Voter ID

Pennsylvania Sec. of State Carol Aichele today cited a debunked James O’Keefe video during a Q&A with me.  She held a press conference following today’s NAACP Voter ID rally on the steps of our Capitol.  When she maintained there haven’t been any voter fraud prosecutions because county District Attorneys are limited by budgetary restraints and must focus on rapes and murders I pointed out that President George W. Bush made prosecuting voter fraud a national priority and still couldn’t find any cases.  AG Alberto Gonzales even fired nine US Attorneys when they couldn’t find any cases to prosecute.

So she lied and I caught her.  It was a national priority under George W. Bush and even that didn’t find cases of voter fraud.  She then cited this James O’Keefe video about this year’s New Hampshire primary and told me to watch it.  I did when the disgraced video scam artist made it and saw every case in it debunked.  When I pointed out that fact her press guy cut me off.

Let’s remember one point:  O’Keefe actually tried to commit voter fraud in New Hampshire when he made this video.  He was arrested in Louisiana for trying to bug the office of a U.S. Senator.  No one in their right mind cites James O’Keefe as a source.

Here’s where his claims were debunked, and here.  Here’s one of his “dead” voters:

Media Matters found him:

I recall one of his alleged voter fraud incidents involved an elderly woman who voted by absentee ballot and subsequently died before election day.  By law her ballot was completely legal.

Yet Carol Aichele cited these as evidence of voter fraud.

The full video of her press conference and the Democratic response afterwards.  The battery on my Bloggie expired during the Senator’s comments, sorry for the sudden demise of the coverage.


DOJ Investigating State Voter ID Law

Talking Points Memo is reporting the Justice Department is investigating the Corbett/Turzai VoterID law.  PennDot has been charging voters $10 for the ID which makes this a poll tax.  Other voters must pay for birth certificates and other documents in order to obtain a voter ID.  These indirect costs also make this law unconstitutional.  In fact if it even entails paying a bus fare to get to a motor vehicle photo office (and not every county even has one) it should be declared unconstitutional.  Having to pay a fee for the right to vote is Unamerican.

It’s easier to get a gun here than to vote.  Maybe if we all showed up at the polls with purple ink on our fingers they’ll let us vote.  We spent $3 trillion imposing democracy on Iraq and it’s easier to vote there than here.  Perhaps China can invade us and force democracy back on America.  Turnabout is fair play correct?

The Civil Rights Division wants state data on voters and ID’s to determine if the Mike Turzai law unlawfully targets minorities.  Sec. of State Carol Aichele could not cite a single instance of voter impersonation during hearings and also claimed it would only effect 1% of voters.  It turns out that 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a photo ID.  This is about 9% of the state.

A rally against Voter ID will be held tomorrow at 1PM on the Capitol steps.  Commonwealth Court begins hearings on a lawsuit challenging the validity of the law Wednesday.

Voter ID is Working: Suppressing the Vote

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law is working as intended:  suppressing the vote for November’s election.  We know that was its intent because House majority Leader Mike Turzai said so.  Anyone with half  abrain already understood that from the language of the bill.  Voter ID targets demographics which traditionally vote Democratic:  the young, elderly, disabled people and the poor.

Sec. of State Carol Aichele must resign for committing perjury in her testimony in support of the bill.  She stated categorically that only 1% of the state’s voters would be affected.  The number is actually above 9% and in Philadelphia, the core of Democratic votes in the Commonwealth, 18%.  Elderly voters who cannot or do not have, birth certificates, are heavily disenfranchised by Voter ID.  Many were born in an era when midwives were used for birthing and birth certificates were never issued.  Women who wed and changed their names have birth certificates in their maiden names and must produce documentation.  An Inquirer analysis of data shows over 27% of those age 80 or more are without IDs.  The older one is the more likely they do not possess a PennDOT ID.  That’s logical.  Many of these elderly citizens stopped driving.

All of this costs people money in order to vote meaning Voter ID is a poll tax.  PennDOT is requiring people to pay for state issued ID’s in violation of the law.  That also makes this a poll tax.

Since absentee ballots are exempt from the Voter ID law one solution is for voters to demand absentee ballots this November.  That may be the only way to insure your right to vote does not get infringed by Mike Turzai and Tom Corbett.