This post by Philadelphia radio reporter (and former Daily News columnist) Dave Davies at WHYY is a week old now but worth clipping for those of us on the other side of the state following Voter ID matters. State Republicans from Tom Corbett to GOP chief Rob Gleason have been citing a report on Philly voting inaccuracies by city commissioner Al Schmidt to bolster their case for the new law, but Davies argues the problems are few, and largely due to clerical errors. And most wouldn't be solved by voters showing IDs on election day.
Schmidt's report does identify some cases of apparently illegal conduct: one woman who appears to have voted twice in two different voting divisions; one case of voter impersonation (but not in the 2012 primary, which the report focused on); 23 cases of un-registered people convincing poll workers to let them sign "voter slips" in violation of procedure and cast machine votes; one polling place in the Northeast where six more votes were tallied on machines than voters who signed in (curiously, the extra votes were all cast in the Republican primary in a predominantly Democratic division); and seven non-US citizens voting over the last 10 years.
These are small numbers, compared to about 170,000 votes cast in the primary.
But Gleason and others say this may be just the tip of the iceberg. Most of these findings came from a small sample of voting divisions. Expand it across all 1,687 divisions, they say, and you may have a mountain of fraud.
The problem with that argument is that the sample in the report wasn't randomly selected. The 14 divisions examined were those flagged in a comparison between state and city records (more on that in a moment).
So while it's possible there are great pools of slime in the rest of the voting divisions, it may also be that we've seen the worst here, and it's far from hundreds of cases of fraud.
In one category of irregularity, the use of "voter slips" to cast machine ballots, the report looked at all of them citywide, because they're easy to examine. So the 23 unregistered voters who slipped through that crack represent the citywide total – again, 23 out of roughly 170,000 votes cast.
Photo: Al Schmidt. Emma Lee/for NewsWorks