The battle over Pennsylvania voters without ID -- as the state's stats show -- has its two biggest fronts in the metro areas with the most voters, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which are also dominated by Democrats. Voter ID critics at the AFL-CIO broke down the state's numbers into maps (above and below; click for bigger versions) making the point further.
Inside the courtroom -- and probably Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's head -- the battle will be over the US Supreme Court's acceptance in 2008 of Indiana's voter ID law. Dave Weigel at Slate looks at the arguments yesterday:
The Crawford decision addressed a somewhat similar situation. Walczak focused on the differences. The Supreme Court found that provisional ballots could take care of voters who lacked ID. But a Pennsylvanian who voted that way would have only six days to get a valid ID and prove his identity. In Crawford, Stevens found that “the elderly in Indiana are able to vote absentee without presenting photo identification.” In Pennsylvania, though, voters have to offer some proof that they’ve earned absentee ballots—for example, that sickness or travel prevents them from voting that day.
And even then, asked Walczak, why force so many people into the absentee system? Why bet on the provisional ballot system? Why do all of this in one election cycle, when in Georgia, voter ID was phased in over two years, with four times as many locations for obtaining the right cards?
The reason, said Cawley, was the specter of voter fraud. The day before he had made this argument to Prof. Lorraine Minnite, author of The Myth of Voter Fraud. He informed her that Heritage Foundation Fellow Hans von Spakovsky worried about fraud; she said von Spakovsky’s work was unscholarly claptrap. He wondered how widespread fraud was; she showed a chart that indicated that there were 183,344 fraud charges of any kind in fiscal year 2006. Of those, only 60 of them were charges of voter fraud.
Cawley dealt with this by dismissing it. He repeated von Spakovky’s arguments and pointed out that another expert witness, Prof. Matthew Baretto, worked with the anti-voter-ID Brennan Center and the Hispanic turnout group Latino Decisions. How to explain the low voter fraud numbers? Perhaps voter fraud didn’t make it to the top of prosecutors’ to-do lists.
Simpson is expected to rule by Aug. 13, no doubt pushing the case into the lap of the state Supreme Court. Til then, and after, there will be more studies (like this one on the impacts of minority voters in Philly) and that from the giant union umbrella group.