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Pa Judge's Ruling Revives 'Taxation Without Representation'

By       Message Linn Washington     Permalink
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ID law opponents provided Judge Simpson with evidence that state offices do not have the operational capacity to accommodate issuing the documents needed for the new required ID.

Simpson contended that persons encountering problems on Election Day can vote with provisional ballots but those ballots will not be counted unless the person can present proper ID within six days of Election Day.

A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that as many as 11 percent of all eligible voters in ten states with the toughest ID laws do not have the types of identification required to vote.

Those laws restricting voter access, critics contend, are vote suppression schemes devised to decrease the numbers of voters perceived as voting Democratic.

The Republican Pa legislator who introduced the Voter ID law, Daryl Metcalfe, is a member of ALEC, the conservative corporate sponsored organization that has pushed voter ID and other restrictions on voting in states nationwide.

Simpson said the ID law was a legitimate "election regulation to verify a voter's identity" dismissing claims the law was a deliberate roadblock designed to deprive persons of their Pa state constitutional right to vote.

The assurances that Judge Simpson accepted from Pa state officials that kinks in the law will be ironed out represent adjustments those officials are making on a near daily basis to correct defects discovered in the new law that even Pa's top election official for Corbett's Administration, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, testified she doesn't fully understand.

"The Commonwealth's constant modifications to Act 18 demonstrates its lack of preparedness and need for additional time to ensure that Pennsylvania's eligible citizens can enjoy the opportunity to participate in the electoral process," stated an unsuccessful amicus brief from Pa's Senate Democratic Caucus filed by Philadelphia attorney Kevin Mincey.

The clashing viewpoints of Judge Simpson and Voter Id law opponents about that law's impact is not surprising given the conflicting and contradictory positions taken by the law's proponents.

When Pennsylvania's Republican controlled legislature hastily approved the Voter ID law in March 2010, on strict partisan lines, supporters of the measure said it was necessary to prevent in-person voter fraud which those supporters claimed was rampant.

However, during the injunction hearing before Judge Simpson, Corbett Administration officials conceded that no in-person voter fraud existed in Pennsylvania and no evidence existed that in-person fraud will occur in the upcoming November election.

The fact that Pa's legislature implemented one of the nation's most restrictive ID measures, radically altering voting procedures, to address a problem that doesn't exist didn't faze Judge Simpson, a registered Republican. (Pa judges are elected in partisan elections.)

"I conclude that the absence of proof of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania is not by itself dispositive," Simpson stated in his ruling that cited court rulings from other states upholding Voter ID laws but rested largely on his own personal perspectives for pivotal conclusions.

Alarmingly, Judge Simpson also brushed off a damning declaration made in June by the Pa House Majority Leader who proudly professed during a Republican Party meeting that the true intent of the Voter ID law was helping the GOP's presidential candidate win Pennsylvania.

House Leader Mike Turzai, when listing 2012 GOP legislative accomplishments like corporate tax cuts during that June meeting said, "Voter ID which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win Pennsylvania -- Done!"

While Simpson termed Turzai's "tendentious statements" disturbing curiously Simpson declined to "infer" that other Republican Pa legislators "shared the boastful views" of Turzai.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)

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