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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2012 11:20am PT  

I had a lot to pack in to about 4 minutes on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture TV show last night, but I did my best, including a tasty new morsel on Florida's criminal investigation into the GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that I was able to obtain just before air, and which I haven't yet broken elsewhere...

As referenced in the video above:

  • More on the nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal here...
  • More on the polling place Photo ID restriction ruling in PA yesterday here...
  • More on the story Thom mentioned about Romney investors tied to voting machine company Hart Intercivic, here...
  • And more, if you've yet to read it, on the coordinated, systematic, nationwide GOP Voter Registration Scam to lie to potential registrants in hopes of keeping Obama supporters from even being able to register to vote this year, here...

By the way, while I try to include the following tag below when posting our Election Integrity stories, I usually get few takers. Your support this time of year is crucial, as I simply don't have much time for fund raising at all, or even for selling stories elsewhere (which sometimes helps to cover some of the expenses we have here). I'd rather be reporting, than fund raising, especially now. So anything you can do to hit the tip jar below is greatly appreciated! I do hate asking, but I have to. So my great thanks in advance!

* * *
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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/2/2012 10:11pm PT  

Today, democracy in Pennsylvania was granted a reprieve. For now. Of a sort.

In response to a recent state Supreme Court remand, unanimously voiding his previous August ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, issued his new ruling [PDF] today on the state GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction law.

He enjoined just a part of the law, but it effectively strikes down the most onerous provision of it --- but only for this November's Presidential election. There were also a number of troubling caveats with what he left in place, rather than striking down the entire statute as the petitioners had sought.

There has been some confused and confusing reporting on the ruling today. Here is where --- barring any additional court challenges --- the law stands at this moment, just over one month from Election Day...

  • Voters will NOT have to show a state-issued Photo ID at the polling place in order to cast a normal ballot.
  • Poll workers SHALL ask voters for Photo ID, but they may NOT keep them from voting if they do not have one.
  • Voters will NOT have to cast a provisional ballot if they do not have state-issued Photo ID.

Hopefully that clarifies the key points of today's ruling, which is being misreported in some quarters.

Also of note, the court refused to enjoin the Commonwealth's tax-payer funded $5 million ad campaign, as written into the statute for the purposes of "educating" the public about the polling place Photo ID requirement (even though it no longer practically applies for this election.)

Given that, and given that poll workers may still ask for ID this November, and given that the Photo ID requirements, barring more legal challenges, will be allowed to take effect next year, it is almost guaranteed that confusion will reign in parts of Pennsylvania this year. On the upside, the 1.6 million otherwise-eligible voters who it was feared could be disenfranchised, will at least be allowed to vote in this year's Presidential election, presuming they can navigate all of the confusion left in place by Judge Simpson.

Contrary to the claim made by GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, Hans Van Spakovsky, the court did not rule on the constitutionality of PA's Photo ID statute. A ruling on that aspect of the law will not be made until after the case proceeds to a trial, following the election, on the plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction.

Tonight, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also discussed the confusion likely to be brought by the state's continuing ad campaign along with the other vagueries allowed to continue by Judge Simpson's ruling today...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Petitoners argue Judge's suggested partial injunction would disenfranchise voters, violate state Supreme Court's mandate...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/30/2012 9:30pm PT  

A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge may be on the verge of "splitting the baby" in his latest ruling on the challenge to the state Republicans' polling place Photo ID law, despite a clear mandate from the state Supreme Court ordering him to either find the new law will not disenfranchise any voters this year, or block it entirely with an injunction.

Last Friday, attorneys representing the petitioners in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the state GOP's draconian polling place Photo ID law, filed a 26-page Post Hearing Brief [PDF] in which they counseled Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson not to defy the state Supreme Court by issuing only a "limited injunction" in the case.

Such a ruling, they argue, could force a minimum of 90,000, but perhaps as many as 1.6 million voters who lack the requisite Photo IDs, to cast provisional ballots --- which are sometimes counted, sometimes not --- during the Nov. 6, 2012 election.

The brief was filed one day after Judge Simpson informed the parties to the case that, despite evidence that there was no conceivable means by which the Commonwealth could supply all of the otherwise eligible voters with the requisite Photo IDs now needed to vote under the new law before the Nov. 6 election, he was inclined to enjoin only that portion of the Photo ID law's provisional ballot section that contains disenfranchising language.

Petitioners contend not only that such an injunction would defy the mandate laid down by the Supreme Court when it vacated Judge Simpson's previous order earlier this month, denying their request for a preliminary injunction, but that it would amount to an "inadequate remedy" that would create "a bifurcated system" that would entail a "naked disenfranchisement" of untold numbers of previously-eligible voters.

From the content of the brief, it is clear that unless Judge Simpson issues a full preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the Photo ID law with respect to the Nov. 6 election, this case will be headed back to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court once again, just over 30 days before the Presidential Election...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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ALSO: New hearings underway this week on GOP polling place Photo ID restriction laws in SC and PA...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2012 12:07pm PT  

According to a new poll out today, voters in Minnesota may be getting wise to the state Republicans' scheme to suppress the votes of minorities, the elderly, students and the poor, all of whom have the annoying habit of voting in favor of Democrats.

After MN's Democratic Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a law passed by Republicans in the legislature last year that would have required state-issued Photo ID for voters at the polling place before they were allowed to cast their vote, the Republicans decided to bypass the Governor and take the issue straight to the voters.

Without a single Democratic vote, and opposed by the state's chief election official, Sec. of State Mark Ritchie (D), GOP members of the legislature voted to put the issue up for a Constitutional Amendment referendum on the ballot this November.

While the wording of the ballot question itself was challenged by the League of Women Voters and other voting rights groups who charged that the language chosen for the ballot was purposely deceptive and failed to detail the real effects of the Amendment, at the time we first wrote about the matter in July, our legal analyst Ernie Canning noted that, if the referendum was allowed on the ballot, there was a very real chance that it might be supported by voters who, he said, have been "utterly deceived [in the] court of public opinion" about the need for such a restriction.

Citing a May 2011 poll of Minnesotans by the Star Tribune, Canning noted that a whopping 80%, at the time, supported the adoption of photo ID restrictions in the state.

The bad news is that, despite some skepticism displayed during the recent MN Supreme Court hearing about the ballot question (as well as the legalities of such a Constitutional Amendment itself, which was not at issue during the case heard by the court, whose justices are all appointees of former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty), the court eventually decided to allow the initiative to remain on the ballot this November as written.

The good news, on the other hand, is that, following an uptick in mainstream media coverage of the issue over the past several months, while a slim majority in the state still favor the amendment, support appears to be nose-diving, at least among Democrats and independents, according to a new survey by the Star Tribune...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Judge ordered to review if GOP voting restriction can be lawfully implemented as written, and without disenfranchising voters; else it must be blocked
Dissenters: Ruling will 'allow chaos to beget chaos'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/18/2012 2:15pm PT  

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a 4 to 2 decision this afternoon, has vacated a Commonwealth Court's earlier ruling, which had denied a temporary injunction on the state GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction law. Rather than issuing their own injunction, they have has sent the matter back to the lower court for review.

According to the high court's 7-page order [PDF] issued today, if the lower court finds that the state is unable to implement "liberal access" to the supposedly free Photo IDs to be issued by the state, as dictated by the General Assembly's requirements detailed in the statute itself, "or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction."

We'll try to unpack that for you in a moment. As well, there were two scathing dissents to today's ruling, both highly critical of the majority for not ending the ongoing "chaos" immediately, instead of remanding it for another round to the lower court. But, in general, and depending on how Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, reviews the case as ordered, this is may be good news for voters in the Keystone State.

"It's certainly a very positive step in the right direction in that the court recognizes that the state does not make adequate provision for people to get the ID that they would need to vote," said David Gersch, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs challenging the law's state constitutionality, according to CBS. "In addition, there is a practical problem with getting the ID to people in the short time available."

The case, Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF], was originally filed in May by the ACLU, the PA League of Women Voters, and other civil rights organizations on behalf of 92-year old Viviette Applewhite and 10 other petitioners who were facing potential disenfranchisement under the new law, along with hundreds of thousands of other legally registered and otherwise eligible voters in the state. Before the trial even began, the Commonwealth admitted that they were unaware of a single instance of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by their polling place Photo ID restrictions --- in the history of the state.

Last Thursday, during their hearing in Philadelphia, the PA Supremes indicated they had some skepticism about the law, as we detailed here. The court was reviewing an appeal by the plaintiffs filed last week after the Commonwealth Court had stunned many of those following the case, including the plaintiffs who had predicted a "slam-dunk" win, by upholding the law last month and refusing to grant a preliminary injunction in advance of the November Presidential election.

But now Judge Simpson will have another crack at deciding the case, as the high court has punted it back to him. This time, however, he has been ordered by the high court to issue a preliminary injunction on the law if he cannot determine that the state is able to meet two very specific conditions...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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(And what you can do to help counter it.)
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2012 9:38pm PT  

I'm in this short video --- just out tonight from John Wellington Ennis, filmmaker of one of my favorite Election Integrity documentaries, Free For All: One Dude's Quest to Save Democracy and the forthcoming Pay to Play: Democracy’s High Stakes --- but don't let that keep you from watching it. It's very good and has a bunch of other folks in it who are really smart.

Ennis, who is also one of the founders of the very important Video the Vote project, has a way of making difficult ideas easy to understand and entertaining to watch. He does so again here...

* * *
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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TONIGHT: Author Kurt Eichenwald, Philadelphia Election Comm. Chair Stephanie Singer; Gov. Don Siegelman's Daughter Dana; MORE!...
LIVE! 9p-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), Call-in#: 877-520-1150
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2012 3:43pm PT  

[Now UPDATED with audio archives below! Enjoy! I did! - BF]

We're back guest hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show once again tonight as Mike and Kathy take another rare night off.

As usual, we're BradCasting LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open, at the bottom of this item, a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)

Scheduled tonight:

The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at our Sante Fe affiliate KTRC 1260, or our Minnesota affiliate KTNF 950 (tell it your from "Minnesota" when asked!) Also, you should be able to listen live at WhiteRose Society if the radio gods are with us.

* * *

POST-SHOW UPDATE: Holy cow! Was that a crazy, busy, insane, fast moving show! TONS of breaking news and some great guests. Check all the ad-free archives out below! And read the chat room archives along with it if ya like. Good luck! I need a nap...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2012 3:45pm PT  

Today, in a courtroom in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held a hearing to determine whether Republican Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson was correct in his verdict [PDF] last month when he stunned plaintiffs by upholding the state GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction and refusing the ACLU/Advancement Project's motion for a temporary injunction before this November's Presidential Election.

The voting rights groups are challenging the law on behalf of eight, mostly elderly, plaintiffs plus the League of Women Voters of PA and the NAACP and other civil rights groups, as a violation of the state Constitution's guaranteed right to vote. Last week, The BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning detailed their powerful appellant's brief, arguing that Simpson erred in his ruling.

The plaintiffs had originally predicted a "slam dunk" victory in the lower court case, given the remarkably poor presentation offered by the Commonwealth, and the myriad of evidence presented in their favor, showing that some 1.6 million otherwise eligible voters could be disenfranchised this November, in addition to the state's own admission before the trial began that the Commonwealth was unaware of any "investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania" and that no "in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law."

So today's hearing was key and, according to The Nation's Ari Berman, was played out before "a packed, standing room only courtroom."

While the state Supreme Court currently consists of three Democrats and three Republicans (the fourth Republican judge on the bench is currently suspended, pending a corruption investigation), a split verdict would mean the lower court's decision to allow the GOP's restriction on voting would stand.

But there were hints today that at least one Republican judge may be skeptical about the state's claims that nobody need be disenfranchised by the GOP-enacted law which would take effect, for the first time, in the November Presidential election, just 54 days from now...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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But perhaps he's one of the 'rogues', 'strumpets' or 'wandering Arabs' the Commonwealth Court Judge may have been concerned about when citing an 1869 case to uphold the new law...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2012 5:09pm PT  

CNBC's Mad Money host, Jim Cramer, tweeted the following earlier today...

Cramer's father, however, is hardly alone. Some 1.6 million otherwise eligible voters in the state of Pennsylvania --- many of them elderly, minorities, students and the poor --- may be unable to vote this November under the state's GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law, unless the absurd ruling of Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson is overturned on appeal, or unless the U.S. Dept. of Justice finally decides to file a federal challenge that successfully blocks the state's completely unnecessary law as violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

But Cramer's father can take heart. Scott Keyes at Think Progress reports: "A House Democratic Twitter account responded to Cramer with a promise that Rep. Jim [*Bob] Brady (D-PA), who represents part of Philadelphia, would "personally see to it that your dad gets the necessary ID and transportation to vote."

See? The new Republican law won't actually disenfranchise anybody! All you need to do is make sure you have a family member host a popular TV show, and your problem will be solved when a U.S. Congressman notices and promises to intervene. Democracy saved!

By the way, the ruling by the Commonwealth Court Judge who upheld the voter suppression law recently, may be even more absurd than originally believed or as detailed by The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning upon appeal. As Nicole Flatow explains, the law that Judge Simpson relied on to support his ruling was an 1869 case, Patterson v. Barlow, in which the majority warned of "rogues", "strumpets" and "wandering Arabs" who, it was feared, might commit voter fraud in Philadelphia that year.

Even back then, as the dissenting opinion in the 143-year old case reveals, the minority Justices were concerned "that among the barriers so ingeniously contrived to prevent [voter fraud], the defeat of the duly qualified voters must inevitably occur."

The dissenters went on to offer advice that would be useful today to those concerned about actual voter fraud (versus the Republicans who instituted today's Photo ID restrictions, solely to keep largely Democratic-leaning voters from casting their legal vote at all):

If frauds were imminent by simulated voters, let penalties be provided for the rogues, and set honest and vigilant men to watch them, but let not the rights of honest voters be sacrificed to these apprehensions.

* * *

* CORRECTION: It appears that ThinkProgress' Scott Keyes misstated the first name of the PA Congressman who has promised to help Cramer's father get a Photo ID to vote. PA Election Integrity advocate Marybeth Kuznik of VotePA.us writes in with this correction: "The Democratic Rep in PA-1 (part of Philly) is Bob Brady. I guess he goes by Robert Brady officially, but everyone in the state calls him Bob. He's a very powerful Democratic Rep in PA (head of the Philadelphia Caucus in the PA Democratic State Committee) and, as you may know, is Minority Chair of the U.S. House Admin Committee, so he is a gatekeeper on anything regarding voting. There is no Jim Brady in the PA Delegation." We've corrected the Congressman's first name in the article above.

* * *
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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Republicans going 'whole nine yards' to suppress vote in OH, says former President in advance of DNC speech
UPDATE: Clinton cites GOP voter suppression during DNC speech...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2012 11:16am PT  

"Do you really want to live in a country where one party is so desperate to win the White House that they go around trying to make it harder for people to vote if they’re people of color, poor people or first generation immigrants?," Bill Clinton asked rhetorically on Tuesday night during an event organized by the Arkansas Democratic Party.

In what The Nation's Ari Berman highlighted as a possible "preview" of the former President's remarks tonight in Charlotte, where he'll be headlining at the DNC, Clinton savaged the Republican efforts, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio, to suppress the Democratic vote:

“Do you really want to live in a country where one party is so desperate to win the White House that they go around trying to make it harder for people to vote if they’re people of color, poor people or first generation immigrants?

“In Pennsylvania, where they passed all these voter ID requirements, the House Republican leader who passed it said it was one of the most important achievements because it will enable Governor Romney to defeat the president in Pennsylvania.

“In Ohio, they passed the whole nine yards. The problem was in Ohio you can actually put this stuff on the ballot pretty easily to overturn it. So they went back in—you gotta give it to Republicans, they’re good. They vetoed it, then they snuck in an end to advance voting. Then they allowed the counties—and every county in Ohio has an election commission of three Democrats and three Republicans [Ed Note: actually it's two and two]—to decide if they were going to go around advance voting. The Democrats, we were for it. So in every county that was Republican, Democrats said ‘OK, we’ll have advance voting.’ And in every single county that is overwhelming Democratic, the Republicans voted against allowing advance voting.

Berman goes on to note that Clinton offered similar sentiments during a speech he made last year, when he decried the "Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today":

In last year's speech, a clip of which we'll post again below, Clinton said:

I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.
...
Why is all this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.

Will Clinton offer similar sentiments tonight during his speech in Charlotte?

UPDATE 9:10pm PT: In fact, Clinton did give a shout out against GOP voter suppression during his rousing convention speech tonight: "If you want ever American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority, and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama!"

* * *

The short clip from President Bill Clinton's 7/6/2011 speech to student voters, in which he slammed Republicans for their voter suppression efforts follows below.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By his own admission, they argue, hundreds of thousands of legal voters may be disenfranchised by the GOP-enacted law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2012 6:35am PT  

The petitioners challenging the Republican polling place Photo ID restriction law as a violation of the state Constitution in Pennsylvania, have filed their appeal to the state's Supreme Court, after being caught off-guard by a surprising and stinging defeat at the hands of a Republican Commonwealth Judge last month.

In their 68-page Pennsylvania Supreme Court brief [PDF], the petitioners in Applewhite vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania set forth a compelling legal case to demonstrate the need for a preliminary injunction in advance of the November 2012 President Election in order to prevent what they describe as the potential disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of lawfully registered voters.

The brief does much more than simply urge that Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson, erred in applying the federal "minimum scrutiny" standard instead of subjecting Photo ID to "strict scrutiny" under state law because, they argue, it threatens to deprive hundreds of thousands of Keystone State citizens of a fundamental right to vote. The brief lays bare many of the GOP myths about the purpose of polling place Photo ID restrictions, while demonstrating why the GOP-enacted Pennsylvania law would not qualify as constitutional even under the less demanding test laid down by six of the U.S. Supreme Court's nine Justices in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, their 2008 decision approving Indiana's version of a similar restriction on voting in that state...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Federal lawsuit to prevent mass disenfranchisement may be imminent...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2012 12:35pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Pennsylvania has refused to turn over documents that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had sought in order to determine whether the state's new polling place Photo ID restriction law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and other federal laws.

As previously reported by The BRAD BLOG, on July 23, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez submitted a four-page letter [PDF] to Carol Aichele, the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (coincidentally, the wife of Gov. Tom Corbett's Chief of Staff), requesting information in electronic format for 16 broad categories of documents that the DoJ felt were needed to evaluate whether the Keystone State's Photo ID law complied with federal laws barring discriminatory election laws.

In an Aug. 17 letter [PDF], the Commonwealth's General Counsel, James D. Schultz, responded to Perez, by telling him that PA would not comply with what Schultz described as an "unprecedented attempt to compel [PA], a state not within the purview Section 5 of the VRA, to present information concerning compliance with Section 2 of the VRA."

Section 5 of the VRA requires some 16 different jurisdictions in the U.S., with a history of racial discrimination, to get pre-clearance for new election-related laws. Pennsylvania is not one of those jurisdictions. However, all 50 states are barred from instituting discriminatory laws under Section 2 of the act.

Schultz accused the DoJ of targeting "a growing number of states…simply because they instituted legislation designed to insure the integrity of the voting process"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Plaintiffs vow to appeal ruling by Republican judge as 1.6 million legal votes said to be imperiled by new law this November...
UPDATED: Plaintiffs filed formal notice of appeal...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2012 12:02pm PT  

A state court has upheld the state constitutionality of the new Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law in Pennsylvania which critics say may imperil the votes of more than a million legally registered voters in the Keystone State this November.

In his 70-page ruling [PDF] issued today, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson acknowledged that the plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, "did an excellent job of 'putting a face' to those burdened by the voter ID requirement," but failed to demonstrate "facial unconstitutionality". The judge did not rule on the merits of the case, but on whether or not it could be enjoined by the court.

That, despite the fact that:

  • The Pennsylvania state Constitution guarantees that "Every citizen 21 years of age [lowered to 18 years of age by the twenty-sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution]...shall be entitled to vote at all elections," subject to certain restrictions by the General Assembly as to who may register to vote.
  • Independent studies have determined that some 1.6 million otherwise eligible voters in PA, including nearly a million in Democratic-leaning Philadelphia alone, may lack an unexpired state-issued driver's license by this November's Presidential election, which is just 83 days away.
  • The state admitted, before the trial even began, that they were unaware of any "investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania"; that they "are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere"; and that the state would offer no evidence at the trial "that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law."
  • The Republican Secretary of the Commonwealth, charged with implementing the law, admitted on the stand that she does not "know what the law says."
  • The Republican Governor who signed the bill, and lied about "voter fraud" in the state, does not even know what type of ID would now be eligible for voting under the new restrictions.
  • The Republican House Majority Leader admitted that the bill, passed in the state legislature without a single Democratic vote, was meant to "allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania" this year.
  • During the trial, as described by plaintiffs, "[S]tate officials admitted they underestimated the number of registered voters without acceptable photo ID, admitted the law will disenfranchise voters, admitted the law will hold different voters to different standards, admitted voters casting an absentee ballot will be able to vote without ID."

Given all of the above, following the close of the trial, the plaintiffs had predicted a "slam dunk" ruling in their favor. We had also predicted that the law was likely to "go down in flames."

We're still reviewing the opinion of Judge Simpson, who is a Republican, and will have a more detailed analysis of the specifics of his ruling in the coming days.

Plaintiffs have already vowed to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court, where four votes will be needed to overturn the Commonwealth Court's ruling. Currently, there is a 3-3 Republican/Democratic split on the high court, as the 7th jurist, a Republican, has stepped aside for the moment pending a corruption investigation. If the state Supreme Court splits on the verdict, Simpson's ruling would hold. Though, depending on how the state Supremes decide, and if federal rulings are a part of whatever decision they may make, it is possible the plaintiffs could later take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in the event that the state Supreme Court fails to overturn the lower court's verdict.

Separately, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has opened it's own investigation of the law to determine whether or not it may be in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and/or the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause. They may decide to file their own federal case to block the law in the weeks ahead.

UPDATE 8/18/12: On Aug. 16 plaintiffs filed a formal notice of appeal. Once the opening brief is available, The BRAD BLOG will furnish a detailed analysis of that appeal in the context of the rationale applied by Simpson, along with an assessment of the alternative litigation which the U.S. Department of Justice could potentially file in U.S. District Court.

UPDATE 9/4/12: The plaintiffs have now filed their appeal to the PA Supreme Court. Our legal analyst Ernest Canning details their appeal and some of the absurdities they point out in the original ruling by the Commonwealth Court judge right here...

* * *
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Federal case also waits in the wings...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2012 12:59pm PT  

It's looking good for voters this year in the state of Pennsylvania, if opponents of the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restrictions are correct in their predictions, in any case.

Last week, on the heels of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Carole Aichele (the woman in charge of implementing the new law in the Keystone State), admitting, under oath on the witness stand, that she didn't even "know what the law says," we predicted the statute was likely to "go down in flames", thanks to the legal challenge brought against it by the ACLU and other civil liberties groups on behalf of 10 plaintiffs who will have trouble casting their once-legal vote this November if the law is allowed to stand.

Aichele's admission followed a remarkable stipulation by the Commonwealth, before the trial began, that, in fact, "There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania"; that they "are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere"; and that the state would offer no evidence "that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law."

Of course, the extraordinarily rare case of in-person impersonation at the polling place remains the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by such laws, even as data from the state reveals that the once-legal votes of some 1.6 million formerly eligible Pennsylvania voters could be imperiled if the law is allowed to stand. By way of comparison, President Obama was said to have won the state in 2008 by just over 600,000 votes.

We're not the only ones with the sense that the GOP's voter suppression law is likely to "go down in flames" in this trial, which had its closing arguments last week.

Penda D. Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, one of the several civil rights groups who cooperated in bringing the complaint against the state, believes "this should be a slam dunk victory for plaintiffs which should result in a preliminary injunction."

Based on what actually happened at this trial --- and didn't --- she may have good reason for that prediction...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2012 10:27pm PT  

The great John Fugelsang (one of Twitter's best follows!) joined me in studio today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast.

We discussed any number of things political --- from his smash hit Sexy Liberal Comedy tour and album with progressive radio & Current TV's Stephanie Miller and Hal Sparks; to his "minor historical footnote in a very ugly, sad Presidential campaign" after asking the question of Mitt Romney's campaign director on CNN which elicited the infamous "Etch-a-Sketch" answer; to his big announcement this morning that he'll be launching his own nightly primetime show on Current TV beginning this fall; and much more to boot.

John's a pal, and one of the smartest guys in media. Period. Good hire, Al Gore! He was kind enough to stick around with us for the hour, as we were joined by Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education to discuss this week's bombshell: The Koch Brothers-funded(!) scientist and former climate change skeptic, Professor Richard Muller, coming out to confirm his recent findings that global warming is, in fact, "real" and that "humans are almost entirely the cause."

Plus, I enjoyed a bit of a rant on the newest news from the PA GOP's crumbling polling place Photo ID restriction scam, a visit from Green News Report's Desi Doyen, and an "apology" to the National Rifle Association after having called them the "terrorist-enabling NRA" during last week's BradCast...

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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