CP: Another take on AG & voter fraud

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Chris Potter at Pittsburgh City Paper has a different take on the stipulation from the state Attorney General's office stating it has no evidence of election day voter fraud.

Chris notes the AG has only admitted it won't argue the matter in court, and he goes to other court filings to show the state indeed believes fraud exists:

As the stipulation agreement notes, the state's "sole rationale for the Photo ID law," is contained in a response to written questions filed by the ACLU. And in that answer, the state makes quite clear that it has plenty of suspicions that Voter ID does take place ... and that one purpose of the law is to ferret out such cases.

State officials "are aware of reports indicating that votes have been cast in the name of registered electors who are deceased, who no longer reside in Pennsylvania , or who no longer reside in the jurisdiction where the vote is cast," the state's answer asserts. And without some proof of ID, the state contends, "there is a risk that votes may be cast in the names of registered electors who are dead or who have left [the area] by a person other than the registered voters ... Requiring a photo ID is one way to ensure that every elector who presents himself to vote [is] the person that he purports to be, and to ensure that the public has confidence in the electoral process. The requirement of a photo ID is a tool to detect and deter voter fraud."


Maggi reserves air time vs Murphy

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Democrat Larry Maggi's campaign announced today that it has reserved $495K in Pittsburgh air time this fall, the most of any Pgh-area congressional challenger. (The only other main challenger is Republican Keith Rothfus, who has reserved $357K in airtime in his battle against Mark Critz.)

Maggi, of Washington County, last week reported $407K in cash for his PA18 challenge of incumbent Tim Murphy of Upper St. Clair, who reported $1 million on hand.

The Democrat's campaign looks to be making the argument that its challenge should be taken more seriously than Murphy's past challengers, who rarely went on TV -- in 2010, Democrat Dan Connolly only spent about $80 grand on TV spots. Murphy thus far hasn't made an ad buy, but he surely will (he did to defend his seat against GOP rival Evan Feinberg in the April primary). Outside spenders are also getting into the fray, from the DCCC ($1.5M) NRCC ($1.2M), House Majority PAC ($350K) and SEIU ($161K) -- though they may all be spending on Critz/Rothfus as well as Murphy/Maggi.


DOJ letter on voter ID

Published by Tim McNulty on .

With the DOJ looking into whether the state's Voter ID bill violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (discrimination on basis of race, color or membership in minority group), here's the letter from the department's top civil rights official seeking data from the Corbett administration.

(Note: The ACLU's court challenge notes how 120,000 Pa citzens from Puerto Rico can't get the birth certificates necessary to obtain acceptable ID.)



Pa attorney gen: No voter fraud in state

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Expect to hear a lot about this in the public and legal debate over Pennsylvania's strict voter ID law: the Pa Attorney General's office has sworn in court documents that it has no evidence of in-person voter fraud investigations in Pa or even other states, nor will it attempt to present any evidence of fraud in a Commonwealth Court defense of the bill starting Wednesday.

The AG's office  seems to have agreed to the stipulation in exchange for keeping Gov. Tom Corbett (the state's former AG) or current AG Linda Kelly from testifying in the ACLU court challenge.

The stipulation is below. The focus on "in-person" voter fraud seems to differentiate alleged law-breaking on election day from other election-related fraud prosecutions that happen all the time, such as for forging signatures on nominating petitions. The Allegheny County DA's office charged a sitting Pittsburgh City Councilman, Daniel Lavelle, with that very thing last year for filing bogus petition signatures from people who were dead, in jail or out of the country.

As usual there are multiple moving parts to this major election/political story. The Justice Department is reviewing the state's new law, though it isn't likely it can step in to try to block the law as it can with southern states via the Voting Rights Act. The Inquirer has a nice wrapup.

Thousands are expected to rally in support of the court challenge at the state Capitol today at 1 p.m. Several Pittsburgh-area speakers criticized the law at a forum last night in Squirrel Hill.

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Casey: Delay voter ID law

Published by Laura Olson on .

caseyAs Harrisburg prepares for this afternoon's voter-ID opposition rally, here's a look at what U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., had to say about the law and his concerns. 

Asked yesterday following his remarks to the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon, Casey said he's "very worried" about implementing a law that changes voting requirements in a presidential election year.

"Anything we're doing as a state that erects barriers to voting, especially in a year like this, is in need of a lot of scrutiny," he told the gaggle of reporters, adding that it could be "a significant barrier."

"We'll see what the court does [regarding the legal challenges] but I would hope ... that if we're going to have a law like that in place, that it is tested and implemented in a year other than this type of a highly charged political year," he continued.

"When I saw that number that the Department of State put out, over 750,000 Pennsyvlanians who don't have ID, even if that number were cut in half, it would be disturbing."

Asked if he thinks the Commonwealth Court should grant an injunction on the law, he replied: "Oh yes, I hope they would because there are facts on the table now about the number of people who could be affected."

That figure of 758,000 people represents the number of voters who couldn't be matched to a name in the Department of Transportation's database.

Federal identification cards, such as a passport, or IDs from colleges or nursing homes that include an expiration date also can be used, and a new ID card will be available late next month for voters who don't have a birth certificate or Social Security card necessary to acquire current PennDOT photo IDs.

Information on that Department of State figure is part of what federal officials have requested in their review of the law, according to the P-G's Karen Langley:

In a letter dated Monday, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez asked Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele to provide documents including the state's voter registration list and its list of driver's licenses and personal identification cards, with each roster including full names, addresses, dates of birth, identifying numbers and race.

The letter also requests documents supporting a statement in a March press release from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett that 99 percent of the state's eligible voters have acceptable IDs, as well as documents supporting a Department of State estimate earlier this month that approximately 758,000 registered voters lack state-issued photo identification acceptable for voting.