Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Electronic Voting Machines | The Legal Intelligencer

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments as to whether electronic voting machines that do not produce simultaneous paper records of each vote cast violate the Pennsylvania Election Code. The 24 petitioners in the matter, whose case was argued by Michael Daly of Drinker Biddle & Reath, are seeking a declaratory judgment that would direct Carol Aichele, the secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to decertify the direct-recording electronic voting systems. Before the justices, Daly contended the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines do not provide a permanent physical record of each vote cast, as the code mandates. Although the machines can print records on request, Daly explained to the court that neither the printed records nor the electronic records satisfied the code’s requirement. Daly highlighted the petitioners’ argument that the digital records couldn’t be considered physical records since they were software-dependent, and the data could be altered or used for a fraudulent purpose without detection. He added that the machines were “utterly incapable” of verifying that a vote was cast the way the voter intended it to be.

Pennsylvania: ACLU seeks info on Pennsylvania voter roll purge | Associated Press

A civil-rights group raised questions Tuesday about Pennsylvania’s participation in a program designed to help purge voters with duplicate registrations in different states. Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said state officials have rebuffed his requests for details about how rigorously state officials will oversee the purging of voter rolls under the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. “Cleaning voter-registration rolls of inaccurate and duplicate information is important, but it must be achieved in a way that does not improperly or wrongly purge voters from the rolls,” Walczak said in a letter to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID ad campaign is back, Democrats say it’s misleading | Philadelphia Inquirer

The Department of State has relaunched its controversial advertising campaign to educate voters about the yet-to-be-implemented voter ID law. Only this time, Pennsylvania taxpayers are footing the bill and some lawmakers are not happy about it. The $1 million “Show it” ad campaign is airing statewide on TV, radio and Internet with some targeted ads to Hispanic TV and radio and black radio and some print ads in Spanish language, and other non-English newspapers, said Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman. The funding was part of the 2013-2014 state budget, he said. Some opponents of the law called on Secretary of State Carol Aichele to pull the “misleading” ads. “If one individual is under the impression that they will not be permitted to vote without a photo ID and stays home on November 5, that is one person too many,” said Sen. Matt Smith (D., Allegheny). In a letter to Aichele, Smith called the department’s action “troubling” and “confusing” and suggested that the money instead go toward advertisements that detail where and how voters can obtain free photo identification — without mentioning identification requirements.

Pennsylvania: State joins coalition to clean up voter rolls | TribLIVE

Pennsylvania has joined a multi-state alliance that aims to clean up voter rolls by identifying people registered in more than one state and dead people who remain on registration lists. A mobile society makes it “important that election officials use available tools to make sure only legally registered individuals vote,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in August when Pennsylvania joined. About half of all states, led by Kansas, belong to the coalition, which cross-checks voters’ names. States compile registration lists at the end of each year to check for duplicates.

Pennsylvania: State joins multi-state initiative to prevent voter fraud |

Pennsylvania is joining a multi-state consortium that aims to preserve the integrity of every vote by preventing voters from voting in an election in more than one state. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele announced this new effort today at a statewide conference of county election officials in Philadelphia. “One concern about the integrity of voter lists has always been whether someone who moves to another state could be registered and possibly cast votes in both states, which is against the law. Participating in this consortium is our best way to prevent that,” said Aichele, whose department oversees elections in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Why Voter ID Law Was Flawed From Outset |

While the Pennsylvania voter ID law was being developed, officials within the Corbett administration noted concerns similar to those now raised in court by parties claiming the requirement is unconstitutional. An internal bill analysis presented in Commonwealth Court on Monday by challengers of the law shows the Department of State had learned that college students and residents of care facilities might not be reached by provisions of the law intended to ensure they would have access to acceptable identification. Most university identification lacked expiration dates, while most care facilities did not issue IDs, the December 2011 analysis said. Of particular concern was a scenario that could be encountered by residents of care facilities that house polling places. A resident too unwell to travel to a Department of Transportation licensing center to obtain an ID might still be able to get to the polls and thus be ineligible to vote absentee. “The individual may then claim that he or she has been deprived the right to vote,” the document says.

Pennsylvania: Aichele chided on voter ID funding | Daily Local News

Democrats on the House budget-writing committee Thursday accused the Corbett administration of not doing enough to prepare for the possibility that Pennsylvania’s embattled voter-identification law will be enforced in this year’s general election. The lawmakers questioned Secretary of State Carol Aichele about Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision not to include money for outreach efforts in his 2013-14 budget plan even though the law could be in full effect — or overturned — by the time voters head to the polls in November.

Pennsylvania: Judge rejects settlement over polling place access | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A federal judge Monday gave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Allegheny County Board of Elections a week to come up with alternatives to a consent order that they hoped would resolve a dispute over media access to the polls on Nov. 6 and beyond. The newspaper has sued the board and Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, claiming that barring media from the polls, especially during the first election governed by the voter identification law, violates the First Amendment right to gather news. A state law bars anyone but voters and poll workers from coming within 10 feet of polling places.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania udge rejects settlement over polling place access | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A federal judge Monday gave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Allegheny County Board of Elections a week to come up with alternatives to a consent order that they hoped would resolve a dispute over media access to the polls on Nov. 6 and beyond. The newspaper has sued the board and Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, claiming that barring media from the polls, especially during the first election governed by the voter identification law, violates the First Amendment right to gather news. A state law bars anyone but voters and poll workers from coming within 10 feet of polling places.

Pennsylvania: Chief State election official confident voter ID law will stand |

While a Commonwealth Court judge decides whether Pennsylvania voters will have to show legal identification at the polls Nov. 6, the state’s chief elections official is not taking any chances. Secretary of State Carol Aichele has been touring the commonwealth to get the word out that voter ID is a reality and the state is poised to help anyone who wants to vote. At her latest stop, speaking at Penn State’s HUBRobeson Center on Wednesday morning, Aichele said she thinks the Voter ID law will stand because all residents have a fair opportunity — so-called liberal access — to a legal photo ID. “Liberal access means that anyone who wants a photo ID can get one,” Aichele said. “And now if you go to a licensing center in Pennsylvania … you have a choice. You can even get a non-driver photo ID.”

Voting Blogs: Pennsylvania Refuses to Comply with U.S. Dept. of Justice Photo ID Document Request | Brad Blog

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 afour-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.”

Pennsylvania: State wants later date for voter ID appeal | Philadelphia Inquirer

After winning their first round in Commonwealth Court last week, state officials are in no hurry to hear what the state Supreme Court may have to say about Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law. The state Attorney General’s Office, defending the law against contentions that it will disenfranchise thousands of voters, filed papers Tuesday suggesting that the Supreme Court consider the case the week of Oct. 15 – barely three weeks before the Nov. 6 general election. Opponents of the law say the dispute should be settled as quickly as possible so voters will have a clear idea of what will be required of them when they go to the polls.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania’s Trial Court Decision Defies Common Sense | Brennan Center for Justice

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s 70-page decision yesterday refusing to block the state’s strict voter ID law is a rather curious document. The decision fails to connect legal principles with practical realities and consequently the court failed to protect the rights of Pennsylvania’s voters.  Simpson quickly waves away the facts and devotes nearly 50 pages to various legal theories and standards. Simpson conceded that should the voter ID law prevent any qualified person from casting a ballot; that voter will suffer “irreparable harm.”  Nonetheless, he ignores the real and substantial burdens imposed by this law on Pennsylvania’s voters and instead finds that because he does not believe that any voter will be “immediately” or “inevitably” fully disenfranchised, the law must stand.  More importantly Judge Simpson agreed that there are circumstances where some voters may be erroneously charged a fee to obtain a photo ID.  Ignoring the fact that the United States Supreme Court clearly stated in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that a charge for a photo ID constitutes an illegal poll tax, Judge Simpson simply says that if charged, a voter could sue after the fact and obtain monetary damages, and therefore would not suffer “irreparable harm.”

Pennsylvania: Some of Hall of Fame voters at risk of ineligibility | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In September the state’s top election official, Carol Aichele, lauded Pennsylvanians who had voted in general elections for 50 straight years and were being named members of the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame. “Voting is among our most fundamental and important rights as United States citizens,” the secretary of the commonwealth told inductees in Butler. “President Eisenhower said, ‘The future of the Republic is in the hands of the voters.’ Voting is the most basic means by which we, the people, keep control of our government.” A new study by union critics of the state’s strict new voter identification law argues nearly a quarter of such Hall of Fame voters, all of whom are elderly, may not have acceptable ID to exercise that right in November.

Pennsylvania: Ten Takeaways From Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Trial | The Nation

The two-week trial challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law ended today. Here’s what we learned from the proceedings. Suffice to say, Pennsylvania Republicans didn’t come out looking very good. 1. A lot of voters don’t have valid voter ID. University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, a witness for the plaintiffs (the suit was brought by the ACLU, the Advancement Project and other voting rights groups), found more than 1 million registered voters in Pennsylvania—12.8 percent of the electorate—don’t have sufficient voter ID. Moreover,379,000 registered voters don’t have the underlying documents, such as a birth certificate, needed to obtain the right ID; 174,000 of them voted in 2008.

Pennsylvania: State Senator Solobay: Voter ID Goes from Bad Idea to Embarrassment | Canon-McMillan PA Patch

State Sen. Tim Solobay this week called Pennsylvania’s implementation of new voter ID requirements “embarrassing.” Solobay’s comments come in the wake of five days of Commonwealth Court testimony that revealed a “stunning lack of preparation and knowledge on the part of Pennsylvania officials only 12 weeks before national elections.” “This was a bad idea and now we’re seeing a bad idea badly implemented,” Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said. “It’s embarrassing. Reports from the court testimony this week are being broadcast across the country and have made Pennsylvania a laughingstock.” In an hour of testimony “marked by sarcasm and humor,” Solobay said, Secretary of State Carol Aichele insisted that 99 percent of Pennsylvanians have a valid photo ID, in clear contradiction with news releases by her department and the sworn testimony of staffers.  On further questioning, Aichele said she didn’t agree with the analysis of her staff before admitting, “We don’t know.”

Pennsylvania: Democratic leader says ID law could prevent him from voting | TribLIVE

State Rep. Frank Dermody leads the House Democratic Caucus, having been re-elected every two years since he first won a House seat in 1990. But he might not be able to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. The Oakmont lawmaker on Wednesday said he received a letter from Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele suggesting he might not have adequate voter identification to cast a ballot under the state’s new voter-identification law. The department recently compared voter lists with databases from PennDOT, which issues the primary form of acceptable photo ID — a driver’s license. On his driver’s license, the lawmaker is Frank J. Dermody. His given name, however, is Francis J. Dermody. He said he has been trying to shed “Francis” since he was 16.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law case draws to a close | CBS

Closing arguments got underway Thursday in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s new photo voter identification law. The outcome could determine if voters are required to present a photo ID at the voting booth on Election Day in November. After Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the measure into law in March, voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, quickly challenged it. They said the law will deter elderly and minority voters, who are less likely to have photo identification, from voting. These groups tend to vote Democratic. Proponents say the law will prevent voter fraud. The week-long case included testimony from Lorraine Minnite, a Rutgers University expert on voter fraud, who said such fraud was “exceedingly rare.” “I’m just not persuaded in the absence of evidence it exists,” she said.

Pennsylvania: Top Election Official Disputes Negative Impact of New Voter ID Law | CBS

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth was on the witness stand today, during day five of the court hearing on Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. And her testimony just added to the confusion over exactly how many voters need ID. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele is the top state official in charge of implementing the voter ID.  But when she took the stand she was cagey, even making jokes in some instances in her response to plaintiffs’ attorneys. At one point, when lawyers asked her about the details of the voter ID law, Aichele responded, “I don’t know what the law says.”

Pennsylvania: Judge in voter ID case asks witness: Let’s say I grant an injunction? |

Day four of the court hearing on the state’s new photo identification requirement at the polls brought more testimony on the implementation of the new law, and a rare question for a witness from the judge presiding over the case.  Jonathan Marks, a Department of State employee who oversees elections programs, testified that his office has worked out how to deal with exceptional cases for those people who have difficulty even obtaining the yet-to-be-released Department of State voting ID. “We’re ready to go,” said Marks on the stand.  “It’s just a matter of training help desk staff [on] how to deal with these oddball exceptions.” Within the past month, the state revised its estimate of the number of people who may lack PennDOT-issued ID (driver’s or non-) to roughly 759,000.  Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele has said her office is confident many of those people actually do have PennDOT ID but were flagged because of discrepancies between the state’s voter registration database and PennDOT database.

Pennsylvania: State’s readiness to implement voter ID law questioned | Philadelphia Inquirer

Concerns were raised Friday in Commonwealth Court that voters, poll workers, and state Department of Transportation employees remain in the dark about Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. During the third day of hearings in a court challenge to the law, a Department of State official said letters sent in the last few weeks to the 758,000 registered voters who are believed to not have the correct PennDot ID did not contain details about the department’s new voting-only ID card. “It wasn’t finalized at the time the letters were sent,” said Shannon Royer, deputy secretary for external affairs and elections. The letters also do not tell voters where to go to obtain ID, but direct them to a website and phone number they can use to obtain more information.

Editorials: Why Today’s Voter ID Face-off in Pennsylvania Is Crucial | The Nation

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele had a message for the hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to rally against voter ID laws: “Go home” and find ways to make their fellow citizens comply with the state’s controversial law. “We hope that some of the people who are outside would go home from this rally,” said Aichele during a closed-door press conference. “Focus that energy, go home and find five people who need transportation to a [driver’s license] ID center and take those people to get photo identification.” Today, a court will begin hearing arguments in a case to determine whether the state’s voters must in fact carry Aichele’s burden. Ten Pennsylvania residents will seek to demonstrate how the state denied them ID for voting purposes, thereby showing the harmful effect of the law that is required to knock it down. The voters’ lawyers are seeking an injunction to stop the law due to the problems it poses for hundreds of thousands of voters. For an injunction, they don’t have to prove the law violates voters’ rights. They need only to convince a judge that there are too many unresolved issues with the law that deserve deeper scrutiny. The legal push and pull over voter ID laws has moved through a growing number of states, as federal and state courts weigh the laws’ constitutionality. The fight in Pennsylvania, like an earlier one in Wisconsin, stands out in that plaintiffs believe they’ll be able to show clear harm to specific groups of people, including along racial lines.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law Goes to Court | The Nation

Tomorrow the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law from the ACLU and other voting rights groups. The lead plaintiff is Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old great-great grandmother who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite worked as a hotel housekeeper and never had a driver’s license. Four years ago, her purse was stolen and she lost her Social Security card. Because she was adopted and married twice, she cannot obtain the documents needed to comply with the state’s voter ID law. After voting in every election for the past fifty years, she will lose the right to vote this November. The ACLU will argue that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law needlessly disenfranchises voters like Applewhite and violates Article I, Section 5, of the state constitution, which states: “Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” As in Wisconsin, where two federal judges have blocked that state’s voter ID law, the Pennsylvania Constitution affords strong protections to the right to vote. (The Justice Department is also investigating whether the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.)

Pennsylvania: Justice Department investigating voter ID law |

The Justice Department is investigating Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law, a letter sent to the state government Monday indicates. The letter from Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez seeks a variety of records related to the implementation of the voter ID, which was passed in March and is set to take effect before the November election. Among the items Perez is requesting are databases of Pennsylvania voters and holders of drivers’ licenses and similar state IDs. It’s not clear precisely what triggered the letter but it refers to an estimate Secretary of State Carol Aichele issued earlier this month indicating that 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters don’t have a state-issued photo ID. However, a state-issued ID is not the only form of acceptable voting ID, which includes passports, military ID and some student IDs.

Pennsylvania: Justice Department opens probe of voter-ID law | Philadelphia Inquirer

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law, asking the Corbett administration to document its repeated claims that 99 percent of the state’s voters have the photo identification they will need to vote in November. In a letter delivered Monday to Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, the Justice Department sought a series of databases and other records that have raised questions about the number of registered voters with proper ID, and left county election boards and the public bewildered about the impact of the new voting requirements. The Justice Department said it needed the information “so that we may properly evaluate Pennsylvania’s compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting-rights laws.” That section of federal law prohibits laws or practices that discriminate against any citizen because of race, color, or language.

Editorials: Pennsylvania voter ID law will cut turnout, not fraud | Karen Heller/Philadelphia Inquirer

Let us return to the tale of one Joseph Cheeseboro. Or possibly Joseph Cheeseborough. The city resident loves those machines, having voted under both names in eight elections, going so far as to cast ballots twice in the 2007 primary and the general, using a 7-Eleven on South Broad as one address. Perhaps voting so often makes Joe parched for a Slurpee. Last week, he was cited as the prime example of voter fraud by Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt. Then again, Joe Cheeseboro/borough is the only known example of voter impersonation in Philadelphia. This irregularity, along with the other findings in Schmidt’s study, has been previously reported. At his news conference, Schmidt wanted to make clear – please don’t read this while drinking coffee – this had nothing to do with Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, which is being challenged in Commonwealth Court this week, leaving 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania and 18 percent of Philadelphia voters without proper credentials. The law is as adored by Republicans as it is loathed by Democrats. No, nothing whatsoever to do with the law or politics. Let the games begin! “Philadelphia is, without question, one of our nation’s most infested epicenters for rampant election fraud and corruption,” said Butler County Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who clearly isn’t planning to spend his vacation here. State GOP chair Rob Gleason released an e-mail blast soliciting donations based on Schmidt’s report: “Are you as outraged by this as I am? Enough is enough, and we need to act now! Click to donate $15, $25, $50 or more today to help us combat voter fraud in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.” He added, “Donate today and stand up to the liberals to help us protect Pennsylvania’s elections.”

Pennsylvania: Secretary of Commonwealth Announces New Voter ID Card |

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has announced the creation of a new card that can be issued to voters who need photo identification under Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. The Department of State voter cards, which will be issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, will be available to registered voters who are not able to provide all of the documents they would normally need to obtain a photo ID from PennDOT, such as a birth certificate. “As we work to ensure that Pennsylvanians have the identification they need to vote this fall, this new card will provide another photo ID option for voters,” Aichele said. “We believe these new cards will be a safety net for those who may not currently possess all of the documents they need for a standard photo ID from PennDOT. Our goals are to continue making voters aware of the new voter ID law and helping those who may not have proper identification obtain it,” she added.

Pennsylvania: Groups appeal for delay on voter ID; Corbett refuses | Philadelphia Inquirer

Spurred by the disclosure that 758,000 registered voters do not have Pennsylvania drivers’ licenses, six civic groups called on Gov. Corbett Friday to delay implementation of a new voter ID requirement for at least a year. The Corbett administration immediately rejected the request. “Our goal since the law was signed is to reach out to all voters to make them aware of the law so all eligible voters are able to get ID if needed, and cast ballots in November,” said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, in charge of the state election machinery. Ruman said Corbett did not have authority on his own to delay the photo ID requirement, and would not ask the Republican-controlled legislature to change the law, passed and signed by the governor last March. “The administration supports the law,” Ruman said in an email, “because it protects the integrity of every vote and voter by giving Pennsylvania for the first time a reliable way to verify the identity of each voter at the polls. This will help detect and deter any illegal voting.”

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law assurances fail to quell fears of disenfranchisement | TribLIVE

The contentious state voter ID law should pose no problem for most Pennsylvania voters, according to the Department of State and PennDOT, but local opponents of the law say the state’s numbers show almost one in 10 voters could be disenfranchised. The two agencies compared data and found that 91 percent of the state’s registered voters have a PennDOT ID number on identification that qualifies them to vote. Supporters say the law is needed to prevent voter fraud. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said in a news release on Tuesday that the comparison “confirms that most Pennsylvanians have acceptable photo ID for voting this November.” Officials at the department and PennDOT could not be reached for further comment. “What’s truly scary about this report is that it makes my case,” Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said. “About 10 percent of otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised by the Voter ID law. That’s not an acceptable number of people to tell that they can’t vote.” Disenfranchised groups, Wagner said, include older residents, students and the poor.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law may hit more in Pennsylvania than originally estimated |

More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials. The figures – representing 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters – are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Corbett administration. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has repeatedly said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters already had the photo ID they will need at the polls in November. The new numbers, based on a comparison of voter registration rolls with PennDot ID databases, shows the potential problem is much bigger, particularly in Philadelphia, where 186,830 registered voters – 18 percent of the city’s total registration – do not have PennDot ID.