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GOP Caught in Own Trap

How does the GOP get away with circumventing their own law. The Democrats need to hold them accountable for the Voter Id debacle.

Pennsylvania election officials announced plans Friday to reduce the number of documents required to obtain a photo ID card that will allow voters to cast ballots in November.

(From Philly.com - Link)

On one level this is great news. "...citizens will not have to produce birth certificates and Social Security cards, as currently required, to prove their identities to PennDot personnel."

Let's make it easier to vote now!

On another level this is very disturbing news. The law, requested by Governor Corbett and delivered exactly the way he designed it from the GOP Legislature, is the law. The law REQUIRES citizens to produce the Social Security Card, plus a cross-referencing document for citizenship (birth certificate, naturalization papers, passport), plus documentation stating you live where you say you live (tax bills or utility bills, etc.).

Election officials do not have the right to change this law. This law needs to be repealed by the legislature or injunctions need to be issued by the courts.

Are we a country of laws or not? If the GOP is so concerned about having rules for everything and making all of us follow their rules, they cannot take exception to those of us who actually want them to follow the rules THEY have set up.

Anyone who is on those lists is defined as disenfranchised. Even if they can somehow get their vote back, the act of putting that voter's name on a list means the GOP Law actually targeted that person for removal. They are disenfranchised by law. The GOP has to follow the rules they put in place. Force them to follow the letter of their law.

The names of the hundreds of thousands of people they are disenfranchising need to be publicly disclosed. Imagine contacting them and asking each of these people if they would like to work the polls on Election Day?

Montgomery County has estimated 45,000 people may get bumped. There are about 400 polling places. If the Democratic Party had any sense (I know, it is a stretch) they would assign about 100 people per poll to start working these polls now. The disenfranchised could call each voter in each polling district with a script that says,

Hi, I am Joanne Anyone.
I used to be able to vote before your State Rep, Mike Vereb, voted to take my vote away from me.
I plan to be working at your poll, The Church on Sunnyside Avenue, on Election Day.
I am still totaling up how much it is costing me to get all my documentation in order to get my vote back.
So far I had to deal with Social Security Admin, the Hawaii Vital Records Department ($10 for a copy of my birth certificate), and PennDot.
I had to take a day off work and pay SEPTA to get to the PennDot office.
I think it may cost me about $200 in time and running around to get my "free" Voter Id Card to get my vote back.
By the way, did you have to pay anything to keep your vote?

Repeat this about 100 more times as each of the disenfranchised leaves their names on the phone machines. On Election Day those 100 people will stand outside the polls with shirts saying,

The GOP disenfranchised me and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt.

It will be a powerful gauntlet the still enfranchised voters will have to navigate as they will need to announce themselves for voting.

The proper rule at the polls is for the name of the voter to be announced as they approach the table for verification. Poll watchers are allowed to challenge the veracity of the voter presenting themselves.

Instead, the poll watcher can relay the name of the person voting to those outside so that person can be thanked for voting by name as they leave. "Thanks for voting Mr. Jones, I remember when I could vote".

Let's play by the rules set up by the GOP. The GOP may have just crushed themselves.

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Margaret Aslanis Nystrom July 23, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Excellent ideas! I hope people will actually do that at the polls!
Hope Miller July 23, 2012 at 10:42 PM
But what is the point of this? If they don't get the documentation to get their voter ID card and just stand outside the polls, then they can't vote. I thought the point of fighting was to be able to vote? What good will it do if they just stand there looking stupid on election day? Instead, people should be helping those who need to get documentation to gather it together and get them down to register to vote! Otherwise, the GOP wins anyway!
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Hope - the point is that a voter who has not been disenfranchised is forced to see what their vote does to real people. Things have a little more power if someone is standing there saying, "I can't vote anymore because of what YOUR vote or YOUR Representative did to me". Keep in mind - these are people who have voted in years past that are being removed off the rolls because they don't drive. They WERE registered. If these folks cannot get their vote back, or even if it costs them a dime, or a volunteer their time and resources - it is unacceptable. Make the GOP pay by having those who can still vote see what they are doing to fellow Americans. I am betting people are tired of the GOP garbage.
Alec July 24, 2012 at 10:51 AM
I'm not tired of GOP. Would be glad to respond to them. The democratic system even allows them to stand outside and protest. The law is that you must be a citizen of the country to vote and so, one should get thevrequired documentation. Instead of bellyaching, focus that energy to get the proper ID. Don't wait til the last minute, bitching all the way to the poll. You will only disenfranchise yourself. There has been plenty of advace notice given soil the ACLU and all the other "do good ers" woud focus on helping folks get their ID instead of complaining, maybe that would be more productive.
mark smerkanich July 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM
The problem is this voter registration program was never thought out so the movers and shakers continue to change the target thus the rules are being changed as we quickly head towards a rather important November voting opportunity. Unfortunately or fortunately Rep Turzai showed his hand when he announced that the voter ID program would ensure that Romney wins PA. Since that "coming-out", all the GOPers have been tap dancing and changing rules and making a bigger mess of a bad idea. By the way, PA has spent $10million on this program.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM
The required documentation? OK - I'll play. Did you read the law? Only current Photo Id's (like a driver's license) are good, otherwise the voter is bearing the cost of getting a new Photo Id. If you had a Photo Id that was good 5 years ago stating you were a citizen, do you lose your citizenship because that Photo Id has expired? What country do you become a citizen of because your id expired? If you lose your house because of a medical foreclosure, since you are homeless, you have no home, therefore, can you get a new Photo Id that says "Third dumpster on the right?" This isn't bellyaching. This is playing by the rules the GOP wants to play by. This is evidence of a gamed system. Oh, Bart, are you willing to pay the costs of updating everyone's Photo Id personally?
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM
exactly why this is a bad law and needs to be struck down in it's tracks.
Mike Shortall Sr July 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Great ideas! Love them! But, against my better judgement as one of the "GOP scalawags", I point out that all your plan would do is further reduce the voter turnout in Norristown (I assume). Normally I would be all for that. Then again, I doubt you could find 100 of the "disenfranchised" - at each polling place - who would be willing to stand outside a poll all day for no other reason than to make a point. Like the Philadelphia union guys who show up at our polling place in Horsham each election day, they'll hang around for a few hours - maybe 'til lunchtime - then they will disappear. But I do applaud the effort! Let me know what I can do to help! </sarcasm>
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Mike, Thanks dude, I am looking at the numbers - 45,000 disenfranchised / 400+ polling places = 100 people per... The plan also may fail because it is predicated on the Democratic Party using some grey matter. </sarcasm> If you want to help - send me a few hundred bucks so I can start generating the T-Shirts. I will make sure they are union-made.
Mike Shortall Sr July 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Sorry, one other note ... Why is it that when it came to the Affordable Care Act, the US Supreme Court's decision ended the debate for "you guys"; but when it comes to voter photo ID laws, you refuse to accept that august body's 2008 decision on Indiana's similar voting requirements? That decision (6-3, by the way, or as bipartisan as the ACA decision) stated that requiring a photo ID for the purposes of voting was "minimal and justified". Just wondering ...
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Mike, I thought you were going to go "the full Romney" on me and use the "you people".... The Supreme Court (still a group of frauds - ACA noted) hasn't weighed in on the issue of linking voting to owning a driver's license yet. (This law is making PennDot the arbiter of citizenship.) I really don't see how any court can weigh in on anything with this "law" because it is legal jello - moving all over the place. The Department of State does not get to re-write the law, as I stated above.
Montco Pa Dem July 24, 2012 at 02:48 PM
JTNF - If the courts don't throw this garbage to the curb, I'd like to see Dems fight fire with fire. Why stand idly by and make a point? Instead, let's get Dems to go into heavily Republican polls without ID and demand their right to vote by provisional ballot. Let's really drag it out and create hours-long lines at these polls -- let's see if Republicans are really as dedicated to casting a ballot as they say. I don't think we will really need to employ this strategy, I think the law will be tossed out long before Labor Day. More here: http://bit.ly/NzXeJR
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I understand where you are coming from, however, that is why people are so ticked off. You would be denying the vote, just like the GOP is denying the vote. What my idea is trying to do is convince people their vote DOES matter and the disenfranchised people they need to interact with to cast their ballot are there because bad politics were being played. You may actually get some Republicans to see things your way by just the mere presence of those folks in a friendly manner. If you have Democrats playing the game the same way - you get more Apathy - with people walking away from the polls in disgust and mad at YOU for messing up their day. You take defeat from the jaws of victory.
gerhard sweetman July 24, 2012 at 05:33 PM
India uses fingerprint ID for everything, Computer lookup if necessary. We stupid
freeandequalpa July 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Joe: I do not disagree with your sentiment at all and am opposed to the photo ID law, but for the sake of accuracy: The Department of State did not actually change the documentation requirements to obtain a PennDOT photo ID card. Rather, they are creating an entirely new photo ID card -- one that only can be used for voting. For this completely new photo ID card, the state will not require you to provide a citizenship document or a social security card. Rather, they say, you only will need to provide your social security number and two documents proving residency. This new card will qualify as a valid ID under the law because it will be an ID, issued by the Commonwealth, that contains your name, photo and an expiration date. In short, the state created a new ID card out of thin air that will meet the requirements of the law, but will not require as many documents to obtain. Here is press release about the new cards. www.marketwatch.com/story/secretary-of-commonwealth-announces-new-voter-id-card-2012-07-20 You can read about this and other developments in the lawsuit challenging the law here: http://freeandequalpa.wordpress.com/
freeandequalpa July 24, 2012 at 11:12 PM
You are oversimplifying the holding of the Crawford case. The Court did not hold that photo ID laws are per se Constitutional, but rather held that the plaintiffs who challenged the Indiana photo ID law had not come forward with enough evidence to show that the law violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Justice Scalia highlighted that in his concurring opinion: "The lead opinion assumes petitioners' premise that the voter-identification law 'may have imposed a special burden on' some voters, but holds that petitioners have not assembled evidence to show that the special burden is severe enough to warrant strict scrutiny." So if different plaintiffs came forward with solid evidence on the burden issue in some future case, the Court could easily reach the opposite conclusion. Also, Crawford will not apply to the lawsuit challenging the PA Photo ID Law. The plaintiffs in the PA case have alleged only violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution, not the federal Constitution. A case holding that Indiana's photo ID law does not violate the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution is irrelevant to a case challenging the PA photo ID law as violative of the PA Constitution. Here's another way to look at it -- the US Supreme Court will lack jurisdiction to hear an appeal from the PA Supreme Court's final judgment in the PA case because the suit alleges no violation of federal law.
Montco Pa Dem July 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I don't think you understand - the war has already been declared and the other side is already firing. We either stand and fight, or we concede. There is no "oh, let's be nice and people will like us for it." Believing that fairy tale is partially responsible for putting us in this predicament.
Mike Shortall Sr July 25, 2012 at 01:28 AM
freeandequal: Fact is, the USSC did not strike down the law on its merits. And three of the six majority justices stated specifically that the law was not an unreasonable burden or barrier to voting. Someone has to bring a case supporting a loss of civil rights in order for The Court to take up the matter again. Of course the Democrats will play The Court Game becuase they know they do not have the case to overturn the law. Instead they'll see if they can win one in front of a new audience.
freeandequalpa July 25, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Mike: "Of course the Democrats will play The Court Game becuase they know they do not have the case to overturn the law. Instead they'll see if they can win one in front of a new audience." The voters who sued are challenging the law because they allege it violates the PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTION. Are you suggesting that they should have filed that lawsuit in federal court? Please explain how the federal courts would have had jurisdiction over a lawsuit that raises only state law claims.
Mike Shortall Sr July 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
freeandequal: I don't really care where they try to contest it; they don't stand a chance winning it once it goes to the state Supreme Court. Frankly, I would cross-examine the crap out of any of these "disenfranchised" voters as to the minute details of their preparation, transportation, and time required to get to Harrisburg and testity. Then I would ask them how far away the closest PENNDOT office was (Knowing the answer of course). The ask them how many times they TRIED to get there, and how many of there "court sponsors", neighbors, friends and family members offered to help. Case closed!
Joe The Nerd Ferraro July 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM
what part of driving away people in the middle are you forgetting? you will never win the extremists - you have a shot at those 2 steps to the center of the extremist. Acting like it is war will turn them off.
freeandequalpa July 26, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Mike: "I don't really care where they try to contest it" So your previous argument that Petitioners are playing a "game" by not filing in federal court is withdrawn. Got it. "they don't stand a chance winning it once it goes to the state Supreme Court." You think that -- why? The PA Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue. And, the Court currently is split 3-3 Democrat/Republican. If it votes on a party line, it will affirm by default whatever the Commonwealth Court decides.
freeandequalpa July 26, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Mike: "Then I would ask them how far away the closest PENNDOT office was (Knowing the answer of course). The ask them how many times they TRIED to get there, and how many of there "court sponsors", neighbors, friends and family members offered to help." I went to the hearing today. The PETITIONERS' counsel asked those questions. Because the answers were: We have gone to PennDOT many times but repeatedly have been told that we cannot get an ID without a birth certificate. But we cannot obtain a birth certificate because the states in which we were born decades ago have no records of our birth. We have spent years (some 5 years, some 12 years, some 30 years) and hundreds of dollars attempting to get birth certificates, with no success. We even have gone to pro bono lawyers to help us, but even they have been unable to obtain the documents PennDOT requires to issue a "free" ID. All of this was in their petition, by the way: http://freeandequalpa.wordpress.com/summary-of-applewhite-petition/
Mike Shortall Sr July 26, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Well, now that the State has introduced the new Voter ID Lite card, I guess we can drop all the whining about spending 3 decades trying to get a birth certificate! Frankly, if Ms. Applewhite really spent 3 decades CONTINUOUSLY trying to obtain a birth certificate AND used all the resources at her disposal ... State Rep, State Senator, Congressional Rep, Senators Casey & Toomey, just to name a few ... I'll eat my keyboard. I don't believe it for a minute.
Mike Shortall Sr July 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
And no, I do not withdraw my original comment on court challenges. If they thought they would win this as a "civil rights issue", they would have been in Federal Court in a New York minute! Just for the national media coverage alone ... No, they KNEW they had no chance at the Federal (i.e. eventual USSC) level, so they are trying their luck at the State level.

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