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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 28, 2014
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seemed before this week's show'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in Town of Long Island, reverse results of very close state contest, leaving officials baffled...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gov. Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank issue's dire warning...
Previous GNRs: 11/20/14 - 11/18/14 - Archives...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting of Michael Brown
A few early thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice on the night of his announcement...
'Recount' Ahead for Oregon's GMO Labeling Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
Final report released quietly before holiday weekend and before eighth Republican BENGHAZI! committee set to convene...
Monster Energy Drink Not Just Crappy, Also the Work of Satan!
The indisputable video proof is now here!...
'Green News Report' 11/20/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record-breaking storm breaks Buffalo; October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Repubs: China to cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/14 - 11/13/14 - Archives...
Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?
Yes, scientists have been warning us about this for years. And, yes, the record breaking storm in Buffalo is tied to global warming...
We're #26! Harvard 'Electoral Integrity' Report Dings U.S.
'World's Greatest Democracy' rated worst among Western nations; Ranked just below Micronesia, just above Mexico in overall list...
Gag Order Won't Ensure Impartial Jury in Trial of 'Dark Lord of Coal Country'
WV's criminally indicted coal boss and U.S. Chamber of Comm. director Don Blankeship presents challenge for federal prosecutors...
Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
US Senate fails to approve Keystone XL; Can Congress override the Prez next year?; Native Americans: KXL is 'an act of war'; PLUS: Accountability for 'The Dark Lord of Coal'...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/14 - 11/11/14 - Archives...
Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
Exclusive: St. Louis County Was Warned Before Election Paper Ballots Would Run Out
Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
Not Voting IS a Vote
Stop blaming those who didn't turn out. Americans did vote. By not turning out, they voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole. It may have been a dumb vote, but it was a landslide...
Stephen Colbert is Really REALLY Funny
This segment makes clear once again that it's very very sad The Colbert Report is soon going away...
'Green News Report' 11/13/14
Historic US-China agreement that GOP said couldn't be done; New hope for int'l treaty; Repub freak out; Scientists say deal not enough, but good start...
Crucial Moment for FCC & 'Net Neutrality'
Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
Brad on Hartmann TV: Election 2014 Mess
On thousands of 'missing' votes in Wisconsin, on Nate Silver and polls vs. 'results', on Rightwing 'True the Vote' voter fraud fraudsters, and on much more...
'Green News Report' 11/11/14
'Science has spoken': Final UN report - bad, good & room for hope; PLUS: Margaret Thatcher's historic climate change speech - when conservatives accepted science ...
IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
On Veterans Day, America added another casualty from the War on Iraq -- one who, after first meeting and interviewing him in 2005, we will never forget...
Early Data Suggests TX GOP Photo ID Restrictions 'Worked'
Provisional ballots doubled, turnout down by more 1/4 million votes, despite larger population, contested gov's race and increased voter registration...
WI Scanner Fails To Tally Thousands of Votes in 'Citizens United' Referendum
'Programming error' blamed for paper ballot tabulator recording just 16 of 5,350 votes in city of Stoughton, WI...
The Results Were Skewed Toward Republicans: A Response to Nate Silver
The statistics guru unhelpfully explains away mid-term's surprising outcome by presuming pre-election polling was wrong and unverified election results were all correct...
'True the Vote' Group Fails to Find 'Voter Fraud' (Again)
Laughingstock RW org's 'army' of monitors and smart phone app uncover just 18 benign 'irregularities', 0 cases of polling place impersonation...
'Green News Report' 11/6/14
Election 2014-pocalypse: Republican hegemonic hellscape!; Climate deniers now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news...
About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
Guest Matthew Segal of OurTime.org joins Brad to discuss whether young voters are to blame for Tuesday's election results and, if not them, then who...or what...
Reuters: Voting Probs Around Nation, 2,000 Missing Election Judges in Chicago
Wire service summarizes machine probs, Photo ID vote suppression and a really strange story out of Chicago...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
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?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


George W. Bush-appointed judge concludes 'We are a better people than what these laws represent'
UPDATE: Governor decides to NOT appeal ruling court's ruling...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2014 12:35pm PT  

Just hours after a similar decision in Oregon yesterday, Pennsylvania now becomes the 19th state where the Constitutionally conservative value of equal protection for all under the law becomes the law of the land again.

The Keystone State's ban on marriage equality has just been found by a federal judge to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution there. Wildly unpopular Republican Gov. Tom Corbett --- who lost today on this issue, as well as in his recent failed defense of Republican polling place Photo ID restrictions --- is believed likely to appeal the decision. (He recently chose not to appeal the indefensible polling place restrictions which, as the state was forced to admit before the trial even began, had nothing to do with stopping "voter fraud".)

Corbett, a self-proclaimed "conservative", hired a private $400/hour firm to defend the law after Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to do so. The wildly unpopular Corbett faces a very tough re-election this November.

District Court Judge John E. Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, described the state's ban on marriage quality as "an injustice" and wrote in his rather moving decision today, featuring section headers that mirror the classic wedding vows, that "all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage."

"In future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage," he concluded. "We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

* * *

UPDATE 5/21/2014: As he did after the court's recent rejection of PA's polling place Photo ID restriction law, Corbett has now announced he will not appeal the trouncing his side of the argument received in court yesterday. Let the weddings, and equality, begin...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2014 6:00am PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

Just over a week ago, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning posited that the decision by a federal court in Wisconsin to strike down that state's polling place Photo ID law could signal "the beginning of the end" for such disenfranchising, Republican-enacted laws around the nation.

Since that landmark ruling in the Badger State, new signs from top elected Republican officials in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and even in Wisconsin, suggest that the (at least) decade-long GOP "voter fraud" fraud may have finally peaked, and will now begin the inevitably long slide into abandoned, historical shame.

We don't want to be too quick to declare the demise of this insidious attempt at reviving Jim Crow with a sophisticated and nefariously misleading legal patina, but after covering this beat for a decade --- long before much of the general public, much less the Democratic Party itself, seemed to notice --- it seems that the recent landmark court ruling in WI, followed by last week's towel toss in Pennsylvania and embarrassing revelations in Iowa, may be seen in the not-too-distant future as the moment that the GOP "voter fraud" fraud finally began to permanently unravel...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2014 1:40pm PT  

Sure, Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Tom Corbett may be the dumbest in the nation, but the competition for that title is certainly fierce and tough to quantify.

Who can forget his advice to women of the state back in 2012 that they should just lie back and "close your eyes" while being forced by his government to receive a vaginal ultrasound while the monitor must be pointed towards them before terminating a pregnancy? That was fun.

Then there was his claim that same year, described as "ludicrous" to The BRAD BLOG by a longtime Keystone State election integrity expert, that the GOP polling place Photo ID restriction bill he signed into law was needed, in no small part, because some precincts in the state "come in with a 112 percent" turnout. Of course, that was completely untrue, but, hey, it sounded like actual information! That voter restriction law, as we reported recently, was permanently enjoined by a state court earlier this month after it was found to be in violation of the commonwealth's constitutional right to vote. The law, according to the court, would also have disenfranchised "hundreds of thousands" of legal voters in the bargain.

But how could Corbett have known that? After all, when Corbett's own appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele (another great mind and, coincidentally, the wife of Corbett's own Chief of Staff), was asked about it in court during the legal challenge to the law, she admitted, "I don't know what the law says." Hey, if the state's chief election official doesn't know how many thousands or millions of otherwise legal voters will be disenfranchised by a law, how should the Governor be expected to know any better?!

But the news is not all bad for Gov. Genius, as a new poll out this week in advance of his exciting re-election bid this year details!...

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

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Finds Republican-enacted statute would disenfranchise 'hundreds of thousands' of legal voters for 'no compelling state interest'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/19/2014 9:30am PT  

A Pennsylvania Photo ID law that one Republican lawmaker once boasted would deliver the Keystone State to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election was struck down by a Pennsylvania trial court.

Judge Bernard L. McGinley of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that several sections of Act 18, the Republican-sponsored polling place Photo ID statute that was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in March of 2012, violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The court, which previously prevented the law from taking effect by the issuance of a preliminary injunction, ordered that Act 18's in-person Photo ID requirement be permanently enjoined.

That ruling does not come as a surprise.

In May of 2012, The BRAD BLOG predicted that the plaintiffs in Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would likely establish that Act 18's polling place Photo ID restrictions violate of that state's constitution. The lawsuit --- named after its 93-year old lead plaintiff Vivian Applewhite, who had voted for 50 years without a problem until 2012 --- alleged that the Act's Photo ID restrictions would deny or significantly impair the right to vote. That right, according to the Keystone State's constitution, is considered "fundamental."

Under judicially recognized Equal Protection standards, a law that impairs or abridges a "fundamental right" cannot survive a constitutional challenge unless the law is narrowly tailored to serve a "compelling state interest." That interest, we observed in our original article, cannot be found in what amounts to the "phantom menace" of in-person voter impersonation --- a point PA Republicans later conceded via a formal, in-court stipulation, entered near the outset of the case, in which they acknowledged they were "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."

While he included additional reasons for issuing the permanent injunction, Judge McGinley's lengthy decision [PDF] reveals that our original assessment of the case, and our prediction about its likely outcome, were spot on...

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

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Post office 'glitch' rejecting absentee ballots in Philadelphia
Inaccurate radio ads saying Photo ID needed to vote still running...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2012 12:41pm PT  

This item is less reassuring than it appears at first, once one pays attention to the details. Philadelphia Inquirer reporting...

Hurricane Sandy hit Pennsylvania just as the state's voters faced deadlines for acquiring and submitting absentee ballots, a situation that could affect thousands of votes in the close presidential election.

Gov. Corbett [R] announced Monday night that he was extending the deadline for voters to request absentee ballots - originally 5 p.m. Tuesday - by up to two days, depending on how many days county offices were forced to close because of the storm.

That will give registered voters in Philadelphia, where offices were to be closed Monday and Tuesday, until Thursday at 5 p.m. to show up in person at county election offices, fill out an absentee ballot request, mark the ballot, and vote on the spot. The new deadline would be Wednesday for government offices closed only one day.
...
It will be too late to use that extended deadline to send an absentee ballot through the mail, because Corbett said he was not extending the Friday deadline for completed absentee ballots to arrive at county election offices.

Any use of the mail could be problematic because the storm has curtailed mail service in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Further cutbacks are likely throughout the state, depending on the course of the storm the remainder of the week.

The article was called to our attention on Twitter by MN's Sec. of State Mark Ritchie who asks: "Maybe other states will follow" in extending their absentee deadlines? But, again, please note that extended deadline only works for those showing up in person to cast their absentee ballot.

And then the Inquirer article also adds this troubling tidbit...

--- 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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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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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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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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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.

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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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Time for DoJ to step up and challenge voter suppression laws in states not covered by Voting Rights Act Section 5...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2012 3:29pm PT  

[NOTE: I interviewed 90-year old Joyce Block from Pennsylvania, the woman discussed in the story below, today (Wed, 4/25) on my KPFK/Pacific Radio show, and she offered a bit of a "good news" update on her story. That interview is now posted here. - BF]

And now it's the voters in Pennsylvania who are beginning to lose their right to vote under new Republican voter suppression laws. The latest story of a citizen having their rights robbed by Big Government GOP disenfranchisement laws is that of Joyce Block, a 90-year old grandmother from Doylestown who has voted for 70 years without a problem --- until now.

We've been reporting for some time on legal voters who are being disenfranchised by Republican-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country. For example, in Indiana there were the 80- and 90-year old nuns who were turned away from the polls in 2008 after that state's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction had taken away the rights they'd freely and legally exercised for decades at their own monastery. (They were turned away that year by the poll worker, their fellow sister, who had been forced to follow the new voter suppression law.)

Of course, that same law in the Hoosier State didn't prevent their top election official, charged with overseeing the law, Republican Sec. of State Charlie White, from committing three voter fraud felonies himself. He was found guilty in February of this year and forced to leave office. But these laws aren't actually meant to stop voter fraud. Even proponents of such laws are unable to cite any cases of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possible be deterred by such laws --- which might have been prevented in their state by polling place Photo ID restrictions. These laws are meant solely to disenfranchise perfectly legal, usually Democratic-leaning voters who disproportionately lack the type of ID now needed to vote in states where these laws have been approved.

We told you about 87-year old Ruthelle Frank, an elected town official in Wisconsin who would have to come up with more than $200 for her "free" ID to vote under the GOP's new law there. And then there was 77-year old Bettye Jones for whom it would be strictly impossible to vote at all under WI's law which was, thankfully, recently found to be in violation of the state Constitution by two separate judges in two separate lawsuits in the Badger State.

Down in Tennessee, we told you about 96-year old Dorothy Cooper who was denied a "free" Photo ID, as now needed to vote there, even though she had her birth certificate to prove she was who she said she was. And we also highlighted 93-year old Thelma Mitchell, who used to clean the Governor's office in the statehouse, but was told that her ID was no longer good enough to cast a vote in the Volunteer State.

We could, of course, go on and on and on with such examples, even as we could detail the many high-profile Republicans who have committed voter fraud --- folks like Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter and many others, to name just a few --- who would not have been prevented from committing their crimes even under Photo ID restrictions, because that's not how voter fraud generally occurs and not the sort of voters these laws are meant to disenfranchise. It is, however, a swell way to keep hundreds of thousands, even millions, of perfectly legal --- largely elderly, minority and student (read: Democratic leaning) --- voters from being able to cast their legal vote.

And now, in Pennsylvania, the most recent state where Republicans have approved a polling place Photo ID restriction law --- and where the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett blatantly lied about it to the media --- we see the 90-year old grandmother-in-law of a local Borough Council president who looks as if she'll be forced to break her perfect 70-year voting record this November, as she too is unable to receive the supposedly "free" ID soon required to vote in the Keystone State...

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

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Charges, without evidence, '112% turnout' in some precincts...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2012 7:36pm PT  

Fresh off of telling women they should just "close your eyes" when they are forced by the state to have the government come between them and their doctor for a mandated ultrasound before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy, Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is now just making stuff up concerning "voter fraud" in his state.

Comments highlighted by Steve Benen at Maddow Blog today suggest the Governor is willing to say just about anything to justify the disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions just passed and signed into law by Republicans in the Keystone State...

Asked to explain the need for such a measure, Corbett offered a curious explanation (thanks to reader K.M. for the tip):

When some of the precincts come in with a 112 percent reporting you have to scratch your head and say how does that happen?" questioned Governor Corbett.

At a certain level, that may seem persuasive. If there were precincts in the Keystone State that had 112% participation, then Republicans would have a pretty strong case for new measures intended to crack down on abuses.

But here's the trouble: there are no examples of Pennsylvania precincts, at [any] time or in [any] election, coming in with 112% participation. Corbett appears to have simply made this up.

We thought we'd double check on that with Marybeth Kuznick, founder of VotePA, the non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization which has been fighting to improve the state's electoral system --- and help stop election fraud --- for years now.

She concurs that Corbett's statement is, as she described it to us, simply "ludicrous"...

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

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