TPM Voting Rights

Philly Mayor: Pennsylvania Voter ID Law 'A Bad Solution Looking For A Problem'

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- the top elected official in a heavily Democratic city where up to 43 percent of voters may lack a valid form of state-issued identification -- is taking the potential impact of Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law on Philly voters "very, very seriously."

Calling the law "a bad solution looking for a problem," Nutter, a Democrat, told TPM he would nonetheless use city resources to get the word out about the new law and help Philadelphia residents obtain a valid form of identification to use at the polls in November.

"We should all certainly be concerned about the integrity of the voting process, there are a lot of ways to ensure that," Nutter told TPM in a phone interview Tuesday.

"But it clearly appears to me that this is one of the most frustrating, confusing, and -- at the moment at least -- poorly implemented solutions to a problem that we're not even sure what it is, ultimately, that we're trying to prevent or going to prevent," Nutter added, referring to the state's lack of evidence of in-person voter fraud.

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Official In Charge Of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law: 'I Don't Know What The Law Says'

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, testifying Tuesday during a state trial on the state's controversial voter ID law, said she wasn't sure about the details of the law, but stood by her unsupported claim that 99 percent of voters had valid identification.

"I don't know what the law says," Aichele said under questioning, according to CBS.

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Kris Kobach Credits ACORN Hysteria With GOP-Led Voter ID Renaissance (VIDEO)

Democrats angry over the wave of voter ID laws being implemented in Republican-led states have ACORN to thank, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday.

Kobach, speaking at a Heritage Foundation panel cosponsored by the tea party-affiliated group True the Vote, said that instances of voter registration fraud committed by individuals working for the now-defunct organization known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now brought public attention to election integrity issues.

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Pennsylvania Governor Can't Recall Requirements Of Voter ID Law He Signed

Pennsylvanians unsure about the requirements of their state's new voter ID bill have some notable company: their governor.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Wednesday couldn't remember when asked by a reporter what forms of identification would be accepted under the voter ID law he signed earlier this year.

Corbett was asked about a new report showing that 43 percent of Philadelphia voters lack a valid form of identification issued by the state.

"We've been working with the nursing homes to get people new ID. It can be military ID. There's two or three other forms right now off the top of my head I don't have it here in front of me," Corbett said.

The forms of ID Corbett forgot about include employee IDs issued by the federal or state government, passports and college IDs.

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New GOP-Backed Voter ID Law Could Keep 43 Percent Of Philly Voters From Polls

The voter ID law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania could keep nearly half of registered voters in heavily Democratic Philadelphia from casting a ballot, according to new state data.

About 437,237 registered voters in Philly either lack a state-issued ID or have one that has expired before Nov. 6 of last year, which would make it invalid in the upcoming elections under Pennsylvania's new law, according to state data obtained by the AFL-CIO. As first reported by Philadelphia City Paper, that number represents 43 percent of registered voters in the city, the highest in any county statewide.

Yuri Beckelman of the AFL-CIO told TPM officials "did a double take" and when they obtained the data under Pennsylvania's public information law. Previous data disclosed by the state, which didn't include those with expired ID, indicated over 758,000 registered voters had no state-issued ID, while the new data (including those with expired IDs) raises that number to over 1.6 million, or 20 percent of state voters.

When broken down by county, the percentage of Philadelphia voters who lack a current form of Pennsylvania-issued identification far outnumbers any other part of the state, though the percentage of voters without such ID tops 20 percent in counties like Lehigh, Allegeny, Delaware and Fayette.

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No, Democrats Aren't Trying To Register Kids And Dogs To Vote

No, Virginia, Democrats aren't trying to register your dog to vote.

As Drudge Report readers already know, Mitt Romney's campaign sent a letter to Virginia officials on Wednesday complaining that the "dubiously named" Voter Participation Center has been sending out voter registration forms "pre-populated with names and/or information belonging to the recipients' dead relatives, minor children, non-citizen relatives, already registered voters, convicted felons, and cats and dogs."

The letter, signed by Romney general counsel Kathryn Biber, asks Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and Charles Judd, the chairman of the state board of elections, to investigate the voter registration campaign, claiming it may be in violation of several state laws. It claims the Voter Participation Center's tactics "amount to, or at the very least induce, voter registration fraud."

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Lamar Smith Overlooks Texas Voter ID Expert's Work For Karl Rove

When Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) will likely press him for using a Democratic-leaning firm to analyze data in the Texas voter ID case.

Smith wrote a letter earlier this month which stated that DOJ choosing the "left-leaning" Catalist to review Texas' voter ID data was "a disturbing misuse of taxpayer dollars and undermines the credibility of the Department's challenge to the law."

"Imagine the outrage if a Republican administration intervened to block a New York City election law on the basis of data provided by a firm run by Karl Rove," Smith wrote.

As it turns out, Smith doesn't really have to imagine much: The expert Texas used to defend their law used to work for Karl Rove.

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Ahead Of Voter ID Trial, Pennsylvania Admits There's No In-Person Voter Fraud

As the Justice Department investigates Pennsylvania's voter ID law on the federal level, a coalition of civil rights groups is gearing up for a state trial starting Wednesday examining whether the law is allowable under Pennsylvania's constitution.

In that case, Pennsylvania might have handed those groups and their clients (including 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite) a bit of an advantage: They've formally acknowledged that there's been no reported in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and there isn't likely to be in November.

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Justice Department Investigates Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has launched a formal investigation into whether Pennsylvania's voter ID law discriminates against minorities, TPM has learned.

In a three-page letter sent to Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele on Monday, DOJ requested state data on registered voters as well as the state's list of individuals with driver's licenses and ID cards.

Additionally, DOJ requested information on the state's efforts to educate voters about the new law as well as documents and records supporting a March 14 statement from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett (R) which claimed "99 percent of Pennsylvania's already have acceptable photo IDs." (The state's own data did not support that figure.) Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez requested Pennsylvania send the information to federal authorities within 30 days.

Pennsylvania has said that over 750,000 voters lack an adequate form of voter ID, a number greater than President Obama's margin of victory in the state in 2008. One top Republican even said the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state. As TPM reported, the public relations firm contracted to educate the public about the new voter ID law is stacked with Republicans.

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Public Relations Firm Educating Pennsylvania Minorities On Voter ID Stacked With Republicans

At least six people working on a contract won by a public relations firm to educate Pennsylvania voters on the state's new voter ID law have previously worked for Republican officials.

According to the biographies included with the Bravo Group's proposal (obtained by TPM through a public information request), Chris Bravacos "helped rebuild the Republican Party in the early 1990s," Topper Ray served as a press aide to President George H.W. Bush, Jennifer Riley "worked for the Bush/Cheney 2005 [sic] campaign," Matt Crocco worked on former Gov. Tom Ridge's campaign, Sean Connolly worked as a spokesman for two Republican attorneys general and Otto Banks served as a Bush White House appointee and consultant to the Republican state committee.

Ten percent of Bravo Group's $249,660 contract will be subcontracted out to Skylar Group LLC, which has been designated as a "Minority Business Enterprise" by the state of Pennsylvania. The Skylar Group is owned by Banks, who served as deputy assistant secretary for economic development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. The company will provide outreach to African American and Latino communities as well as translation services, according to the proposal.

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Report: Voter ID Laws Put Undue Burden On 10 Million Voters

More than 10 million potential voters in states with voter photo ID laws live over 10 miles from an office which issues such identification more than two days a week, according to a new report from the Brennan Center.

Of that group, 500,000 do not have access to a car or another vehicle, according to the report. While many of those individuals may already have identification, the report argues that such a burden discourages individuals from exercising their right to vote.

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Rick Perry: Eric Holder's Voter ID Comments 'Incite Racial Tension'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) accused Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday of calling the state's voter ID law a "poll tax" in order to "inflame passions and incite racial tension."

In a written statement, Perry called on President Barack Obama to "disavow his Attorney General's offensive and incendiary comments" about the voter ID law, which seems likely to be blocked by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act.

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Judges Seem Ready To Mess With Texas' Voter ID Law

WASHINGTON -- A panel of three federal judges in D.C. posed skeptical questions on Friday about Texas' voter ID law during closing arguments in a trial about whether the measure is discriminatory.

The panel of federal judges -- George W. Bush appointee Rosemary M. Collyer, Clinton appointee David S. Tatel and Obama appointee Robert L. Wilkins -- hopes to issue a ruling on the case in "quick order," according to Collyer, who expressed doubts about the findings of Texas' experts in the case.

John Hughes, a lawyer for Texas, argued in his closing arguments that people who want to vote already have an ID or can easily get it. Hughes argued that if the state's voter ID law really disenfranchised anyone the D.C. "courtroom would be filled" with Texans who couldn't obtain voter ID.

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'Got Voter ID?' State Efforts At Public Education Vary Widely

Mark Goins is the Coordinator of Elections in the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office. He's also guy in charge of educating Tennessee voters about the state's new voter identification requirement. While other states have hired outside public relations firms to get the word out about the regulation, he's been doing everything in-house. That includes outreach to specific communities statistically less likely to have a form of photo identification which meets the new requirements, which was conducted by members of his staff on top of their other responsibilities.

"I've got a younger person in the office, he's in his 20s, so he was kind of coordinating the college voters, so that was kind of his job," Goins told TPM. "I've got a minority, well I hate to use the word minority, but I've got a person of color within the office who was the minority outreach, if you will, if you use that term. She was the person who went to some NAACP meetings."

As several states prepare to implement voter ID laws passed by their legislatures in November, TPM's interviews with elections officials show that education efforts are all over the map.

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Holder Calls Voter ID Laws 'Poll Taxes'

Attorney General Eric Holder deviated from his prepared remarks during a speech before the NAACP on Tuesday and called voter ID laws "poll taxes."

"Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not," Holder said, referring specifically to the voter ID law passed in Texas. "Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes."

That last line was not part of Holder's prepared remarks released to the press.

Holder has been very critical of voter ID laws in the past, but this appears to be the first time he's gone as far as to compare them to the Jim Crow-era effort to purposefully disenfranchise African-Americans.

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Pennsylvania Pays Romney Bundler's Lobbying Firm To Publicize Voter ID Law

The man behind a company that got a big state contract to educate Pennsylvania voters on the commonwealth's restrictive new voter ID law is a fundraiser for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Ads created by his company, a Republican lobbying group, encourage Pennsylvania residents to obtain state-issued photo identification so they don't "miss out" on their right to vote.

Republican lobbyist Chris Bravacos, who according to the Center For Responsive Politics has thus far bundled $30,000 for Romney's campaign, is president and CEO of the Bravo Group, which received a $249,660 government contract from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's administration for the ad campaign.

Two ads the company created were posted online by the Bravo Group back in April (according to a Google cache) and taken down after Philadelphia City Paper's Daniel Denvir published a story about the contract on Sunday. Occupy Harrisburg later reposted the two videos, one of which uses what looks like stock photos of a diverse cast of smiling individuals holding ID-sized cards that read "My Valid Pennsylvania Identification."

The campaign's slogan? "Your right to vote: it's one thing you never want to miss out on."

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Trial Begins For Texas Voter ID Law

A three judge panel in D.C. started hearing arguments about the legality of voter ID law passed in Texas on Monday.

The Justice Department blocked the state law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act back in March. Texas preemptively sued the federal government in January for not preclearing the law, which was signed last May, in a timely manner.

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Pennsylvania Voter-ID Law Could Disenfranchise Up To 750,000

The impact of Pennsylvania's new Voter-ID law could be much wider-reaching than the state's Republican officials claimed when passing the bill, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

In fact, over 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania -- representing 9.2 percent of the state's 8.2 million registered voters -- do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, based on a comparison between voter registration rolls and the Transportation Department database.

The problem is most acutely shown in Philadelphia, with 186,830 registered voters who do not have ID cards in the Transportation database, 18 percent of the city's total registration.

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