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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 22, 2014
'A Terrible Idea': E-Voting, E-Counting, 'Open Source' and Internet Voting
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Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


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.

* * *
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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...

* * *
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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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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By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2012 6:39pm PT  

Oy...

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele, testifying Tuesday during a state trial on the state’s controversial voter ID law, said she wasn’t sure about the details of the law, but stood by her unsupported claim that 99 percent of voters had valid identification.

“I don’t know what the law says,” Aichele said under questioning, according to CBS.

Aichele also couldn’t provide any evidence that 99 percent of voters already have a valid form of ID, as the state has claimed. CBS reported that when lawyers cited testimony from a Department of State official calling the number likely inaccurate, Aichele responded "I disagree."

Wow. Aichele is a Republican. Her husband is Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's chief of staff. Corbett was recently forced to admit that he had no clue what type of ID was now required to vote under the new law he recently signed.

Not since Arizona's Jan Brewer was promoted by Barack Obama from Sec. of State to Governor, has a state had such a clueless dope as their top election official, apparently. And here I thought the previous Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, was a disaster back in 2008. I guess the bar is getting pretty low for state election officials in PA!...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2012 11:05pm PT  

Ever wonder what one of my blog items sounds like inside my own brain when I write it? On today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio (audio posted below), listeners got a bit of an idea, as the terrorist-enabling NRA, in the wake of their Aurora, CO Massacre, was squarely in my sights.

Sadly, they were too busy praying or lying or raising money off the tragedy or something, to show up and defend their deadly positions, so today's show was just me, and a bunch of great callers who, unlike the terrorist-enabling NRA, were not afraid to come on our public airwaves to offer their positions in the public square over our public airwaves.

For the record, here are the folks who declined to show up and support their deadly positions on the show today, or who simply didn't respond at all to our invitation to appear. Yes, we really believe in offering opportunities for all legitimate positions to be heard over our public airwaves...

  • National Rifle Association (NRA): "We believe that now is the time for families to grieve and for the community to heal. There will be an appropriate time down the road to engage in political and policy discussions."

NRA Official State Associations

  • Colorado State Shooting Association: "While we appreciate your efforts to present the perspective of gun rights organizations such as CSSA on your program, we are unable to accommodate your request."
  • Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Assocation: "I am sorry but all we are doing is concentrating on our total support and prayers for those families. I know many are jumping on the bandwagon to ban this or do away with the Constitutions guarantees and such but they are always ready to strike out at folks like us in the gun culture. ... Please forgive me for forgoing the interview. When emotions are more level, I would possibly do an interview. ... Thanks so much for your understanding."
  • California Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc.: no response
  • Arkansas Rifle & Pistol Association: no response
  • Florida Sport Shooting Association, Inc.: no response
  • Texas State Rifle Association: no response

Politicians with A+ or A grade from the NRA

  • Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA): declined
  • Former AZ State Senator Russell Pearce (R): declined
  • Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA): no response
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): no response
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MI): no response
  • Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO): no response
  • Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): no response

Here's today's show, which also includes a few minutes on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's stunning admission that there is no known case of in-person voter fraud --- the only kind of voter fraud that might be deterred by the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction there --- in the history of the state, and a quick visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report...

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

P.S. KPFK's BradCast is now available on your smart device via the Stitcher Radio app! Plug it in and listen every week automagically!

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By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2012 3:47pm PT  

Last night we offered some very encouraging news about an apparent federal challenge, in the works by the U.S. Dept of Justice, against the state of Pennsylvania's disenfranchising, GOP-enacted, polling place Photo ID restriction law. Today's news is even more encouraging!

The Commonwealth of PA and the plaintiffs in the state challenge to the law have filed a remarkable one-page, 6-point stipulation [PDF] in advance of the trial in that case which is set to begin tomorrow.

The stipulation agrees, in plain language, that there has never been a known case of in-person voter fraud --- the only type of voter fraud that can even possibly be deterred by such restrictions --- in the history of the Keystone State, or even in other states, for that matter...

STIPULATION

Petitioners and Respondents, by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby stipulate as follows:

1. There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states;

2. The parties 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;

3. Respondents will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania or elsewhere;
...
5. Respondents will not offer any evidence or argument that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.

I don't think it can be stated any plainer. The GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction, which they have passed under the guise that it is needed to prevent "voter fraud", is, itself, a fraud.

Of course, we've been arguing this point for some time (going on 10 years, in fact). In state after state where these laws have been passed by Republican legislatures and signed by Republican governors on the basis that they are needed to curb "voter fraud", the proponents of the laws in every state have been unable to offer even a single historical case of voter fraud in their state which would have been prevented by these measures.

In other words, these laws are not meant to curb "voter fraud", they are meant to curb voting --- specifically, by people who don't have the type of state-issued Photo ID required under these new laws. In the case of PA, that amounts to some 750,000 legally eligible voters, by the state's own numbers --- more voters than Obama won the state by in 2008. The voters most effected by these laws, as study after study have shown for years, are far and away more Democratic-leaning than Republican.

That's the entire story on these purposely disenfranchising voter suppression laws. Period. Always has been, always will be. That, despite the unforgivably poor reporting by many in the corporate mainstream media suggesting there is some legitimate reason to enact these laws. There isn't. There never has been. And it is that poor reporting which has allowed the GOP to keep this issue alive, as if it is anything but a blatant attempt to suppress the Democratic-leaning vote...

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

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Case would represent first instance of the federal agency challenging such a law under Section 2 of Voting Rights Act...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2012 8:12pm PT  

Good news for fans of democracy and voting rights, and for foes of discrimination! Bad news for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, his GOP state legislature, and perhaps others like them in different states.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice may soon be filing a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction. The law will affect the ability of some 750,000 legal voters to cast their once-legal vote in the Keystone State this November, unless it is overturned. If the feds choose to bring suit against the new law, it would be the first time the federal agency has used the anti-discrimination provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to block such a law.

Last February, as a civil rights group had filed a federal challenge against the state of Wisconsin, charging that state's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction violated the federal constitution, we explained how the moment presented a "golden opportunity" for the U.S. Dept. of Justice to join the case and challenge it, as well as similar laws in other states, under Section 2 of the VRA.

As Ernie Canning detailed at the time, the DoJ has, to date, only challenged recently-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in jurisdictions which are covered by Section 5 of the VRA. That section of the landmark federal law requires that new election laws in some 16 states, or parts of states with long histories of racial discrimination at the polls, receive federal government preclearance for the new laws before they may be enforced. Section 5 places the burden on the jurisdictions themselves to demonstrate that the new laws will not have a discriminatory effect.

Since these particular laws have been shown, indeed, to be designed to discriminate against largely Democratic-leaning voters, the states where the laws have been denied preclearance by the DoJ --- states like Texas and South Carolina, for instance --- have been unable to demonstrate their laws did not have the effect of discriminating against legal minority voters. In both of those cases, using data supplied to the DoJ by the states, it was simple to show the discriminatory effect of the new laws. (For example, in South Carolina, African-American voters were found to be 20% more likely to lack the type of ID needed to vote under the new law than white voters. In Texas, the state's own data showed that legal Hispanic voters were as much as 120% more likely to lack the requisite ID to vote under the new law than non-Hispanic voters.)

But similar laws passed in states not covered by Section 5 --- states like Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, and Pennsylvania --- have yet to face the same kind of legal scrutiny from the federal government --- until now...

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

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ALSO: AP finds hundreds of legal voters, R and D, who've already lost right to vote under similar laws in other states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2012 12:14pm PT  

Unless civil rights groups suing, incredibly enough, for the right of legal voters to cast their legal vote in Pennsylvania this year are successful in blocking the new GOP law, hundreds of thousands of voters --- of all parties, but disproportionately Democratic-leaning --- could be disenfranchised in the Keystone State alone this November, under the Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction.

The estimated 750,000 voters who do not have state-issued IDs in Pennsylvania surpasses President Obama's margin of victory in 2008. Many of the voters without ID are in poor and minority communities - typically blocs that vote Democratic. Democrats' worst fears appeared to be confirmed when the Republican leader of the state House, who helped shepherd the legislation onto the books, recently boasted that it will "allow" Mitt Romney win the Keystone State.

Democrats now have to make sure voters are aware of the law, know whether they comply, know how to meet the requirements if they don't already - and do it all before Election Day. This could be a steep climb. Only one of five voters approached by TPM at Obama's Pittsburgh rally Friday knew the law existed.

"I heard about it in Florida but not here," said Martin Hoberman, a voter from the Pittsburgh area.

At the same time, AP reports today that based on its study of recent elections in Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee --- states where GOP-backed polling place Photo ID restrictions have already been in effect for some time --- "legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent."

That, of course, is the point.

As the AP story points out in its opening grafs, perfectly legal votes of Republican voters will also be tossed out (in the story they mention a 90-year old WWII veteran and his wife who had no idea their votes for Romney in this year's Indiana primary were never counted) along with the disenfranchisement of untold numbers who don't even bother to show up to vote at all because they don't own one of the very narrowly defined state-issued Photo IDs approved for use under these new voter suppression laws.

And, yes, when Republicans lose their right to vote, it pisses us off just as much as when Democrats lose their right to vote, even when it happens under voter suppression laws passed by Republicans.

We can think of little that is more blatantly and appallingly anti-American than what the GOP is now doing in hopes of purposely and systematically undermining the very core of democracy in this nation.

* * *
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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By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2012 6:40pm PT  

Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.

The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.

Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.

In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.

We interviewed one of the plaintiffs in the case recently, 90-year old Joyce Block, on our KPFK/Pacifica Radio show. That interview is here.

Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.

Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.

Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.

"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...


Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."

She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."

For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right 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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As in similar Wisconsin law, restriction on voting rights appears to violate PA state constitution's 'fundamental right' to vote...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/3/2012 12:21pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.

The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."

There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.

PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.

Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.

For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...

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

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