State transportation and election officials were ordered Monday to provide data on licensed drivers and registered voters to plaintiffs in the ongoing voter-ID dispute, hoping to answer a question that has baffled state officials for the last year: how many Pennsylvania voters do not already have photo identification cards from PennDot? Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. agreed to a motion from opponents of the state’s new voter ID law, saying their data request was relevant.
Pennsylvania: Both sides ask judge to postpone Pennsylvania voter ID law until after primary | Philadelphia Inquirer
Lawyers on all sides of Pennsylvania’s voter ID controversy want to postpone strict enforcement of the law until after the May 21 primary election, allowing time for the proposed photo-ID requirements to be considered again by the state’s appellate courts. The attorneys, representing both the Corbett administration and various civil-rights groups opposed to the law, filed a stipulation Thursday asking Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. to extend a preliminary injunction he first issued in October. If the judge agrees, that would limit enforcement of the voter ID requirement to the same rules that prevailed in the November election: Voters will be asked to show a qualified photo ID when they show up at the polls, but will be allowed to use voting machines whether they have photo ID or not.
Pennsylvania: Lawmakers Hear Stories of Philadelphia Election Day Chaos Caused by Voter ID Law | CBS Philly
A group of Pennsylvania legislators today heard testimony from watchdog groups and voters on the state’s new voter ID law and problems it may have caused at the polls on Election Day 2012. The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee heard testimony from a half-dozen voters and community groups, including the NAACP and the League of Women Voters. All who testified gave accounts of confusion at the polls about voter ID and the identification requirements for first-time voters. “For election administrators, the voter ID law pretty much was a nightmare,” Philadelphia city commissioner Stephanie Singer told the committee. “It was an unfunded mandate with extremely short deadlines.”
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, State officials differ on whether computer glitch caused Election Day problem | NewsWorks
On Election Day, there were widespread reports of registered voters showing up at polling places and being told they weren’t on the rolls. They were allowed to cast paper ballots, which could be counted once their registration status was verified. A record 27,000 provisional ballots were cast in Philadelphia this November. A new review by City Commissioner Stephanie Singer concludes that 5,000 duly registered citizens didn’t appear on the voter rolls because of a “software malfunction” in the Pennsylvania-run voter registry. But Singer said those provisional votes were cast and counted.
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia City Commissioner Singer Releases Provisional Ballot Report | Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer recently released a report which attempts to provide details as to why 27 thousand Philadelphians had to cast provisional ballots during this past November election. The report, conducted without the input of City Commissioner Co-chairs Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark, concludes that number “is not out of line with the general trend since provisional ballots were first introduced in 2004,” though details the reasons why provisional ballots were cast and what can be done to help fix the system. (Read the whole report here)
Voting irregularities in Philadelphia on Election Day have prompted city official to launch an audit. City Controller Alan Butkovitz announced Tuesday afternoon that his office would conduct an audit of the Philadelphia City Commissioners’ handling of the election, in light of the fact that more than 27,000 individuals in the city were forced to vote by provisional ballot on Nov. 6. There are plenty of questions to be answered about how the election went down in Philadelphia. In a letter sent to the city commissioners – a three member board that is responsible for conducting elections in Pennsylvania’s largest city – Butkovitz said there were numerous reported incidents where individuals who had voted in one election district for years were forced to vote with a provisional ballot this year because their names had been removed from the voting rolls. The 27,000 provisional ballots is more than double the number of such ballots cast in 2008 – though turnout was actually slightly lower this time around.
On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote. A spokesman for the Department of State said county elections officials told the agency that implementing the new online initiatives as well as voter ID requirements was too much to handle less than three months before the election. But Stephanie Singer, the top elections official in Philadelphia, said she was unaware that there was an issue with setting up a system to allow voters to register and apply for absentee ballots online, and said shifting more activity online would actually make for less paperwork.
Something big is happening in Philadelphia ahead of this fall’s presidential election – the first in the state since a stringent new Voter ID law was passed earlier this year – although people there concerned about it are having a maddeningly hard time putting their finger on the precise size of the problem. The city has just over 1 million registered voters. About 800,000 of them are considered “active.” “And about a third of them are on one of these two lists as potentially having ID problems,” says Tom Boyer. He’s a former journalist and computer scientist living in Philadelphia who has gotten involved in analyzing the potential impacts of Pennsylvania’s controversial law, which is now in the throes of a legal challenge. Boyer suspects that something historically bad could happen if the law isn’t overturned, and not enough people are talking about it. The Pennsylvania Department of State recently released two lists of the Pennsylvania residents whose state IDs have expired since last November (and thus can’t be used to verify their identity at the polls this fall), as well as a list of the active voters whose names don’t match up with the PennDOT database as currently having an ID. This second list is terribly sloppy (one database spells names like McCormack as “Mc Cormack,” and there’s all kinds of chaos with hyphens and apostrophes). But nonetheless, the best official data available suggests that as many as 280,000 voters in Philadelphia may need to get an ID between now and November to have their votes counted.
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia city commissioner denounces voter-ID law with data | Philadelphia Inquirer
Data met discourse Tuesday when Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, along with representatives of racial and ethnic organizations, religious leaders, and researchers, gathered to trumpet the results of a recent study on Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law and denounce its requirements. “Today’s news conference really is to dramatically show you . . . the impact of voter-ID law,” J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. Researcher Tamara Manik-Perlman conducted a geographic analysis of voter data from Singer’s office, Pennsylvania’s Department of State, and the 2010 census. Manik-Perlman, who works at the Philadelphia-based geographic data analysis firm Azavea, conducted the analysis free over a day and a half. She reported a strong statistical relationship between certain racial groups and the percentage of the population without valid driver’s licenses or other state Department of Transportation ID that would qualify under the new law.
Pennsylvania: Schmidt says fraud, Singer says stunt over report on Philadelphia voting irregularities | Philadelphia City Paper
City Commissioner Al Schmidt released a report today claiming widespread voting “irregularities” and potential “voter fraud,” in Philadelphia. The report is almost sure to attract at least some attention from the national GOP, which has used the specter of voting fraud as a justification for a slew of voter ID laws around the country, even though very few instances of voter fraud have been uncovered nationally. This spring, both Schmidt, a Republican, and City Commissioners Chairwoman Stephanie discussed findings of voting irregularities, holding a joint press conference to announce that some machines had reported more votes than were recorded in poll logs, and promising to conduct an investigation. But today’s report was produced by solely by Schmidt and his office; minutes before his press conference, Singer told this reporter that her office had just seen the report for the first time. We’ll have more on this soon, but Schmidt essentially reported having found 7 types of voting “irregularities” in Philadelphia’s 2012 primary election. Of those, three or four — notably, “voter impersonation,” “individuals voting more than once,” might, he said, constitute fraud. It’s worth noting here that Schmidt’s investigation found very few instances of these alleged crimes. Schmidt reports one (1) case of voter impersonation, which dates back to 2007 and which has already been reported. The reports cites one (1) example of someone allegedly voting twice. The report also found 7 voters who voted in the last ten years and were subsequently rejected from the rolls because they were not U.S. citizens. It’s also worth noting that recently-passed voter ID laws wouldn’t stop most of the problems (and the most numerous) identified in the report.
Philadelphia city commissioners are investigating an unusual series of over-votes in last year’s primary election – 83 voting divisions citywide where the official vote totals were bigger than the recorded number of voters who showed up. In most locations, the discrepancies were small, just a handful of votes. In many instances, minor procedural mistakes could account for the anomalies. But so far, the bulk of the over-voting has not been explained. Until they understand what happened, the commissioners say, they cannot rule out the possibility of deliberate, illegal efforts to run up votes for favored candidates, with the perpetrators losing count as they tried to cover their tracks. In a situation like that, the tiny numbers of over-votes might be red flags for a much larger problem with the underlying vote totals.
It is ironic that in an era when certain elected officials rail against unfunded mandates, government waste and the lack of citizen participation in the civic life of the country, those same officials are spending their taxpayer-funded resources on wasteful, ineffective voter photo ID legislation. Every three or four years, voter photo ID legislation such as Pennsylvania House Bill 934 — introduced by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe — makes its way to the forefront of the legislative agenda, moving to the top of the queue over bills that could help taxpayers save money, create jobs or even improve schools. HB 934 offers to misuse dollars from the federal Help America Vote Act intended to remove barriers to voting for the explicit purpose of making it harder for Pennsylvanians without a photo ID to vote. The bill also calls for the waste of at least $4.3 million from the Motor License Fund.