Mike Turzai

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Editorials: Pennsylvania’s Campaign of Confusion | Philadelphia Inquirer

In its relentless effort to justify the boondoggle that is Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law, the Corbett administration is wasting $1 million in taxpayer funds on a media blitz that at best will annoy voters and at worst will disenfranchise them. This is happening even though Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, who is considering a challenge to the voter-ID law, ruled in August that it would not apply to the Nov. 5 election. Nonetheless, the voter-ID ideologues have produced a 30-second television commercial that’s confusing enough to create the mistaken impression that official photo identification will be required to vote next week. At one point in the ad, an announcer says voters won’t need an ID but then abruptly goes on to explain how to get one. Proponents of the law, enacted in March 2012, say they want to wipe out voter fraud. But the voter impersonation the law would prevent is so uncommon that the state was unable to produce a single verified case of it. That doesn’t mean it never happens, but it does mean that this approach to preventing it is like using a wrecking ball to kill a gnat. Democrats have criticized the law as an unnecessary obstacle designed to hamper their likely supporters, including the elderly, minorities, students, and people with disabilities. About 500,000 Pennsylvanians could be denied the right to vote if the law goes into effect.

Full Article: Inquirer Editorial: Campaign of confusion.

National: Republicans Admit Voter ID Laws Are Aimed at Democratic Voters | The Daily Beast

Indeed, in a column for right-wing clearinghouse World Net Daily, longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly acknowledged as much with a defense of North Carolina’s new voting law, which has been criticized for its restrictions on access, among other things. Here’s Schlafly:

“The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that ‘early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election. The Obama technocrats have developed an efficient system of identifying prospective Obama voters and then nagging them (some might say harassing them) until they actually vote. It may take several days to accomplish this, so early voting is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign.”

She later adds that early voting “violates the spirit of the Constitution” and facilitates “illegal votes” that “cancel out the votes of honest Americans.” I’m not sure what she means by “illegal votes,” but it sounds an awful lot like voting by Democratic constituencies: students, low-income people, and minorities. Schlafly, it should be noted, isn’t the first Republican to confess the true reason for voter identification laws. Among friendly audiences, they can’t seem to help it.

Full Article: Republicans Admit Voter ID Laws Are Aimed at Democratic Voters - The Daily Beast.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law put on hold in November | The Morning Call

State lawyers agreed Thursday not to implement Pennsylvania’s voter ID law in the November election regardless of a judge’s pending decision on whether the law is constitutional. The state attorney general’s office agreed to extend a temporary injunction before the start of closing arguments in a two-week-long trial in Commonwealth Court. Some details of the agreement have yet to be worked out, said D. Alicia Hickok, the state’s attorney. Voters will be able to vote in the general election even if they do not have photo identification cards as the 2012 law requires, she said. The state would like poll workers to still ask voters to show proof of identification, she said. “Poll workers were confused. People were confused, and some were turned away from the polls [in prior elections],” Clarke said. Whatever the final agreement looks like, it will not stop Judge Bernard L. McGinley from deciding the law’s fate. In closing arguments Thursday, Clarke called the law “unreasonably and unnecessarily burdensome,” and said it infringes upon Pennsylvania citizens’ right to vote. She estimated at least 500,000 registered voters lack proper ID, based on a statistical analysis of voting records.

Full Article: PA's voter ID law put on hold in November - mcall.com.

Editorials: Philadelphia voter fraud: Is it possible that Barack Obama won 100 percent of so many precincts? | Slate Magazine

The New Black Panther Party was there, on cue. Standing outside of the 4th precinct in Philadelphia’s 14th ward, there was Jerry Jackson, a member of the leather-loving fringe group who’d signed up to be a poll watcher for the Nov. 6 election. Fox News was there, too. In 2008, the network spent hours playing and replaying a video of two Panthers glaring at a conservative poll-watcher as he filmed them. This year the network sent its own reporter, who tried to interview Jackson. “Have you been around a lot today? What’s your purpose of being here?” He said nothing. The network switched to video of the 35th ward, where people waiting in a school to vote were walking past a mural of the president, even after Republicans sued to get it covered up. “This remained untouched for hours as people voted!” said reporter Eric Shawn.

Full Article: Philadelphia voter fraud: Is it possible that Barack Obama won 100 percent of so many precincts? - Slate Magazine.

Editorials: Mixed message on Pennsylvania voter ID | Philadelphia Enquirer

With all the spin, false claims, and counter-claims, elections are confusing enough. But the on-again, off-again Pennsylvania voter-ID law and the way the state has dealt with it are worse. So much confusion has been created that many voters may not show up at the polls. This is the outrageous result of bad, partisan-stained legislation bullied through the legislature so fast the Corbett administration had little time to even think about how to implement it. For the record: Voters do not need a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote in this election.

Full Article: Inquirer Editorial: Mixed message on voter ID.

Editorials: Pennsylvania Voter ID Judge Rescues Republicans | Francis Wilkinson/Bloomberg

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge Robert Simpson yesterday did his part to save the Republican Party. Simpson, a Republican himself, essentially postponed Pennsylvania’s voter ID law until after the 2012 election on the grounds that the state had made scant progress supplying IDs to prospective voters and would likely disenfranchise large numbers if the law wasn’t derailed. According to recent polls, President Barack Obama is leading Republican Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania by 7 to 12 points. Obama appears likely to win the state with or without a voter ID law tamping down the youth and minority vote. That doesn’t mean the state’s election would be without drama. Pennsylvania is on record with an estimate that 758,000 registered voters lack the proper ID. Over the course of 2012, a few more than 10,000 of those voters obtained one. So if the courts had permitted the law to go forward, perhaps three quarters of a million registered Pennsylvania voters would have been unable to vote this November.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Voter ID Judge Rescues Republicans - Bloomberg.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law sends non-drivers on a bureaucratic journey | The Washington Post

Cheryl Ann Moore stepped into the state’s busiest driver’s licensing center, got a ticket with the number C809 on it and a clipboard with a pen attached by rubber band, and began her long wait Thursday to become a properly documented voter. Six blocks away, inside an ornate and crowded City Hall courtroom, a lawyer was arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the state’s controversial new voter ID law would strip citizens of their rights and should be enjoined. Just outside, on Thomas Paine Plaza, the NAACP president was inveighing against a modern-day poll tax at a boisterous rally of a few hundred opponents. Moore bent over a folding table and carefully filled out the form a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation worker had given her, in the first line she would stand in that day. Her ticket was time-stamped 11:38 a.m. and gave an estimated wait time of 63 minutes, which, said Moore, didn’t seem so bad. She had been registered to vote since she was 19, and now she was 54.

Full Article: For some Pennsylvanians, voter ID quest is an ordeal - The Washington Post.

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s Bad Election Law | NYTimes.com

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about the state’s strict new photo ID law, which is allegedly intended to prevent voter fraud. A voter must present a government-issued or other approved photo ID at a polling place to vote or can file a provisional ballot, which must be validated later by a submission of a photo ID or proof that the voter is indigent. The state has offered no evidence of voter identity fraud to justify this law. There is no legitimate government interest that justifies the burden the law imposes on voters. If the court does not block the law, it will cause irreparable harm. In Philadelphia, for instance, almost one-fifth of the registered voters may not have an acceptable form of identification to vote on Election Day. Statewide, almost one-tenth may not. When he signed the law in March, Gov. Tom Corbett claimed that it “sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.” But, at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in June, the House majority leader, Mike Turzai, boasted that it would “allow Governor Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania’s Bad Election Law - NYTimes.com.

Pennsylvania: Native Nations’ IDs and Voting Rights Cases | New America Media

Native Nations’ IDs are both evidence and exercise of sovereignty, and they should stand on their own as validators of tribal citizens’ rights to vote in tribal, federal or state elections and to travel and return home unimpeded. This should be so for those Native Nations that issue passports to their citizens and those that issue other IDs. Whether Native people consider themselves as citizens solely of their Native Nations or as having dual citizenship, first in their Native Nations and then in the U.S., they should be on the same side as those who are opposed to overly stringent voter ID requirements by states. The Republican-led state initiatives, however nicely self-described, will most likely keep from voting the non-white, elderly, young and poor, who tend to vote for the Democrats. Or, as Mike Turzai, the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, infamously bragged in June about the Republican checklist: “Voter ID—which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania—done!” The Pennsylvania law requires voters to produce state-approved photo identification. This can impose a substantial if not complete burden on people who do not drive or who no longer have a driver’s license; have changed residences and/or last names, but haven’t updated their Social Security card or other IDs; have misplaced or do not have a birth certificate; or who have identification from other states. What about the unlucky person who lost all required papers in a fire, burglary or flight from abuse, or who lacks the means to obtain the necessary backup documents?

Full Article: Native Nations’ IDs and Voting Rights Cases - New America Media.

National: New election laws show partisan wrangling for votes – by both parties | The Hill

A Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls – upheld in a court ruling on Wednesday – has sparked concerns from Democrats that the law will drive down turnout and deliver the battleground state to Republican Mitt Romney this fall. But the Keystone State is just one of nine others nationwide that have some version of voter ID requirement, and experts say the new laws are not simply attempts by Republicans to hamper Democratic turnout but rather part of a widespread effort by both parties to tweak election rules in their favor. Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at University of California Irvine and the man behind the Election Law Blog, has found in a study of election law that, since 2000, both parties have crafted election legislation aimed less at reform than securing victory. “The electoral process is open to manipulation, and technical rules can affect the election outcome, so people play the inside game,” he said. According to Hasen, the amount of election litigation has more than doubled since 2000, in part because the parties are using election laws to further their own political gains.

Full Article: New election laws show partisan wrangling for votes – by both parties - The Hill's Ballot Box.

Voting Blogs: Voter Fraud & The Inherent Corruption in Populism | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

There’s nothing so democratic as a lynch mob, as concerned citizens of Ohio and Pennsylvania have recently shown. In Pennsylvania this week, a judge upheld Act 18-2012, the now-famous piece of anti-voter-fraud legislation. Voter fraud has been a huge topic of concern in the past several years, and not entirely without reason.  Since the year 2000 there have been 2,068 documented cases of reported voter fraud throughout the United States.  In Pennsylvania in 2008, in fact, a temporary employee at ACORN named Luis R. Torres-Serrano was accused of submitting over 100 false voter-registration cards to election officials.*  Act 18-2012 can be viewed, therefore, as a shining example of populist outrage forcing the state to right a wrong. Except that it isn’t. Although there have been 2,068 reported cases of voter fraud over the past eleven years, Act 12-2012 only targets one specific kind of fraud: in-person voter impersonation.  The number of those cases is significantly less.  Since 2000 there have been only 10 cases of voter-impersonation charges made – that’s nationally, for all elections.  The lawyers for the state, in fact, admitted that not only were they “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” they agreed that even without the law such fraud wasn’t really “likely to occur in November of 2012.” Initially GOP officials estimated that they thought the law would adversely affect about 90,000 voters that did not have the type of ID now required.  They have now revised that number to over 758,000 voters, about 9% of the state’s overall adult population.

Full Article: Voter Fraud & The Inherent Corruption in Populism — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

Editorials: Ignoring the real threat of fraud | Lawrence Norden/Politico.com

Why are states with new voting restrictions so unconcerned about fraud that is the real threat to our elections? Over the past 18 months, in a bitterly partisan environment, several states have passed new restrictions on access to voting. They often say they did so to prevent fraud. But something doesn’t add up. The very states that passed the most restrictive laws have also failed to take basic security steps recommended by experts to prevent fraud — steps that nearly every other state in the country has taken. Let’s look at the most controversial (and common) of the new voting laws. Nine states have passed restrictive voter ID requirements that could be in effect this November, depending on the outcome of legal challenges. Under these laws, if a voter cannot produce a specified type of government-issued photo identification — most commonly, a driver’s license — his or her vote will not count. Period. Because millions of Americans do not have the kind of ID required by these laws, the Brennan Center for Justice and others have objected to them. We argue that there should be some way for people who don’t have the ID required by these laws to verify who they are and cast a ballot that will count.

Full Article: Opinion: Ignoring the real threat of fraud - Lawrence Norden - POLITICO.com.

Editorials: A judicious opinion on a silly voter ID law | latimes.com

As someone who writes a lot about court decisions, I can vouch for the fact that actually reading the opinions can spoil the fun. A court’s rationale is often more complicated and technical than the first takeaway from the decision would suggest. Sometimes, it’s true, the jurisprudential rigmarole is just a rationalization for an outcome-driven discussion, but that happens less often than cynics think.  I offer these observations to explain why I’m less outraged than some people about a Pennsylvania judge’s refusal to block implementation of that state’s voter ID law — a law, I think, that is mischievous and politically motivated. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s opinion is closely reasoned, careful  (perhaps too careful; see below) and as far as I can see untainted by partisanship, though he was elected as a Republican.

Full Article: A judicious opinion on a silly voter ID law - latimes.com.

Editorials: Voter IDs, done right, can work | USAToday.com

Supporters of laws that require voters to have a photo ID say that even one fraudulent ballot undermines the electoral process. Fair enough. But the reverse is also true: Even one eligible voter who loses the right to vote because of a flawed ID law undermines fair elections and cheats that citizen of democracy’s most fundamental right. The problem is living up to both of these noble sentiments simultaneously. Requiring voters to show ID at the polls to prove that they are who they say they are, and that they’re eligible to vote, is a reasonable precaution against fraud. Fraudulent in-person voting seems to be far rarer than other, more effective forms of vote stealing, but it happens, and it could conceivably swing a razor-tight election. Given that concern, this page agreed with the recommendation of the bipartisan commission headed by former Democratic president Jimmy Carter and former Republican secretary of State James Baker, which called for uniform photo ID for voters. But ID supporters typically ignore the other half of the panel’s advice: Any ID requirement should be phased in over five years, and states should bend over backwards to make sure eligible voters can get free IDs, including sending out mobile units to provide them. That’s not what’s happening.

Full Article: Voter IDs, done right, can work – USATODAY.com.

Editorials: GOP's fictional voter fraud charges aim to keeping Democrats from voting | Fox News

At a recent meeting of the Pennsylvania GOP State Committee, the top Republican in the state House of Representatives, Mike Turzai, declared that a new requirement for voters to show identification with a photograph on it “is going to allow Gov. [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” He drew wild applause from Republicans in the crowd. The new law being referred to won approval under the state’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett and the GOP majority in the state legislature. The result is that 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters are suddenly at risk of losing their right to vote. Eighteen percent of the registered voters in Philadelphia do not have government issued photographic identification. That means they won’t be able to vote.

Full Article: GOP's fictional voter fraud charges aim to keeping Democrats from voting | Fox News.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law on Trial | Epoch Times

A trial over Pennsylvania’s voter ID law will either uphold or block a new requirement that state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila./Montgomery) called “purely about partisan politics.” A ruling is expected this week. In a phone press conference on July 31, Hughes said the law “reverts us back to the days of poll taxes.” He said that if the trial allows Pennsylvania voter ID requirements to stand, “we will do our best to make sure everyone who needs one gets an ID.”

“The context of the trial is that nationally we are in the middle of the biggest national rollback of voting rights in decades,” according to Wendy Weiser, co-director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The law disproportionately affects minorities, the elderly, and poor people, according to Weiser.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Voter ID Law on Trial | National News | United States | Epoch Times.

Voting Blogs: Viviette Applewhite Voter ID Case: Bring on the Poll Taxes and Literacy Tests | Politics 365

The trial over Pistolvania’s voter identification law (a law someone brilliantly described as “a bad solution looking for a problem”) continues in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I would say that it’s not going to end up well for the state, but you never know with these Commonwealth Court Judges. This is what Judge Simpson said: “This is a high-profile case. There’s a lot of anxiety here,” he said. “There will be a lot of people very unhappy with my decision no matter what I do.” But, he said, “take heart,” because the case will likely go to higher courts before it is over. Oh ohh. Anyway, I don’t want to get into a lot of legalese, but the state has to show a compelling state interest if this law is to be upheld. This is the type of scrutiny that is applied to laws such as this that deals with voting rights.

Full Article: Viviette Applewhite Voter ID Case: Bring on the Poll Taxes and Literacy TestsPolitical News and Opinion from a Multicultural Point of View | Political News and Opinion from a Multicultural Point of View.

Editorials: Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So? | Dan Froomkin/Huffington Post

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud? No, of course not. And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again. In Pennsyvlania, which just adopted a tremendously restrictive photo-ID law that could disenfranchise 1 in 10 votersstate officials conceded they have no evidence of voter fraud, nor any reason to believe it could become a problem. By contrast, there is ample evidence that voter ID laws inhibit voting, particularly among minorities and the poor — two major demographic segments that tend to vote Democratic. And that’s hardly a coincidence. Consider the recent bragging by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that his state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Full Article: Dan Froomkin: Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So?.

Editorials: A throwback to poll taxes | The Washington Post

The U.S. District Court is soon to rule on Texas’s new voter ID law. Ostensibly to combat voter fraud — the existence of which has yet to be demonstrated — the law would require every voter to present a government-issued photo ID at the poll. After a week of arguments this month, the question before the panel of federal judges is whether this law — one of many to emerge in the wake of 2010’s Republican legislative resurgence — places an undue burden on minorities. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, jurisdictions such as Texas with a history of suppressing minority voting must prove that any new requirements don’t “have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” In March, the Justice Department denied the Lone Star State the necessary clearance for this new law, arguing that it would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters. Texas officials appealed. To preserve the access of all citizens to the right to vote — certainly among the most sacrosanct in our democracy — the District Court should follow the Justice Department’s lead and strike down this highly suspect and unnecessary law.

Full Article: A throwback to poll taxes - The Washington Post.

Pennsylvania: Delaware County election official vows to defy voter ID law | Philadelphia Inquirer

Even as the fate of Pennsylvania’s new voter-identification law plays out in a Harrisburg courtroom, an election official in Delaware County is vowing not to enforce it. Christopher L. Broach, a Democratic inspector of elections in the tiny borough of Colwyn, said he would not ask voters to prove who they are on Election Day. “To ask me to enforce something that violates civil rights is ludicrous and absolutely something I am not willing to do,” Broach said Thursday in an interview. An IT consultant, Broach was elected inspector of elections but has recently acted as judge of elections to fill a vacancy. He called the law a ploy by the Republican-controlled legislature, “a wholly unethical decision that violated civil rights for the sake of getting Mitt Romney elected.” 

Full Article: Delco election official vows to defy ID law.