Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are you Abe Vigoda? No, Are you Abe Vigoda?

I was wondering just how much more Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature can possibly suppress voting, confuse voters or otherwise ensure that Republicans have the advantage, even though Pennsylvania is already one of the most tightly controlled states in the nation when it comes to election law and despite that there are now more registered Democrats (4.1 million) than registered Republicans (3 million) statewide.
We already cannot:
  • Vote by mail as Oregon and Washington do.  Voting by mail greatly reduces the states’ costs of having to provide and man polling places and purchase voting machines and it greatly increases voter turnout, which is, of course the opposite of what Republicans want to do.
  • Vote early as nine states do, in some cases up to a week before Election Day, which also greatly increases voter turnout.  Early voting decreases the long lines that we saw, for example, in Ohio in the 2004 election, and it makes it much more convenient for workers who might have to take off Election Day to vote because we still insist on having elections on Tuesdays.  Maine’s new conservative legislature enacted a ban on early voting in 2010 but voters approved a referendum overturning it Nov. 8.  Ohio voters have submitted more than enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot in 2012 to overturn a similar 2010 ban in that state.
  •  Have a referendum.  No way, no how do the people of Pennsylvania ever get to directly express their will on any important issue.  Don’t you often wonder how come California, Colorado and other states can put questions on the ballot but nobody in Pennsylvania ever does?  That’s because Pennsylvania law simply does not provide any mechanism whatsoever for voter initiative and referendum.   You could gather the signatures of every voter in the state to place a question on the ballot and still could not do it.  The Legislature may place specific bond issues on the ballot, but even then, the question has to be approved two years in a row before it can be put before the voters.  Local referenda are allowed, but statewide, you cannot even amend the state constitution by public referendum.
  • Register to vote or change your party registration on Election Day.  Don’t be daft!  Many states allow same day registration, but that loosens the reins the parties have over their members too much for Pennsylvania politicians to handle.  Here you have to be aware that you must register or change your registration at least 30 days before the next election in order to vote in that election and you have go to your local election bureau to do it.
  •  Mail in an absentee ballot.  You have to jump through countless hoops: first you have to apply for an absentee ballot, and then you must deliver the ballot to the county election bureau in person within a week before the election, unless you are traveling or disabled, in which case you must have someone apply to be your designated agent to deliver the ballot.  And if you suddenly become disabled just before an election, you have to go to court to get an emergency absentee ballot!  
  •  Know whether we are voting for Republicans or Democrats for judges and school board members by looking at the ballot, since these candidates usually cross-file in both party primaries, a deliberately confusing and infuriating practice.  The idea is to discourage partisanship in these positions of sacred public trust where party should not matter.  But somehow, it is only Republicans who get elected to the judiciary in Delaware County.  I want to know the party membership of judges and school board members in this day and age of corporate control of the courts and advocacy of Creationism and abstinence sex education only in schools.   By the way, have you noticed that most lawn signs for candidates rarely identify party affiliation? 
So what’s a good Pennsylvania Republican to do to suppress voter turnout even more than all these restrictions already do?  Why require each and every voter to show a state-approved photo ID to a poll worker on each and every election day, just to make sure that Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Abe Vigoda and Marilyn Monroe don’t actually show up to vote.
Republicans are terrified of voter fraud, even though there has been no reported cases of people actually showing up at the polls to impersonate someone else to vote in many, many years.  
Yes, in 2008 there was voter registration fraud.  That is a different thing.  That is when someone enters a fake name and address on a voter registration form, but those people did not then show up at the polls.  Voter-registration-drive workers, who were being paid according to how many new registrations they brought in, were making up those names merely to be paid.  The state Legislature was quick to outlaw that procedure after the 2008 elections.
So having already made it as difficult as possible for people to vote, all the Republicans have left is Voter ID.  House Bill 934 has sped through the General Assembly and is sitting in a Senate committee awaiting action to require photo IDs, which will cost the state government an additional $4.3 million to enact and greatly slow down the voting process. 
The law would require non-drivers to go to their local PennDot service agency and obtain the state-approved photo ID, but since the ID would only be for voting purposes, the state cannot charge people for that service.  That would be a poll tax and poll taxes are unconstitutional.
So college students from out of state, the elderly and non-car-owning city folk (usually Democrats) will be greatly inconvenienced, perhaps to the point of not participating, on the pretext of preventing even a single Mickey Mouse or Abe Vigoda from getting past a less than vigilant poll worker on Election Day.  
Republicans especially hate all those Swarthmore and Haverford and Bryn Mawr College students who register to vote in presidential elections and who tend to be liberal.  Don’t be surprised if you see legislation to push the registration deadline back to before these students show up on campus to eliminate these dastardly newly enfranchised citizens from voting.
But no matter how hard the Republicans try, they’re still stuck with all those Democrats in the evil big cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and increasingly their suburbs.  If they could only come up with a way to make sure that only Republicans could vote.


  1. is site for you. You need tissues for your issues!

    Please explain the thousands of dead people voting in Philadelphia? Acorn, in Philly alone, collected 78,000 absentee ballots, looks like they had this all figured out 3 years ago.
    Allowing people to vote who are not properly registered is disenfranchising those who play by the rules and cast a ballot the right way.

    Voter registration cards should be held like a Drivers License, Gun License or Social Security card!

  2. Sorry, Danny, there are no thousands of dead people voting in Philadelphia. That's an urban myth, long since taken care of by past changes to election laws by paranoid Republicans. The only election fraud reported in the whole state in 2008 were eight cases of Acorn registration fraud. Check with the Secretary of State and AG's Offices.
    If there were thousands of dead people voting in Philadelphia, don't you think vigilant Republican poll judges would be screaming about it? No screaming, nothing, nada.

  3. You are so naive!
    A Rasmussen poll says Seventy percent (70%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to cast their ballot. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 22% oppose this kind of requirement.

    Rigging elections comes down to registration. Which in Philly, like any urban area, means enrolling out-of-towners, the dead or the exploitable — the homeless and ex-cons.

    How is it done? City Hall insiders — nameless in order to save jobs — cite a litany of registration methods available to the would-be election rigger.

    Do dead men die? Not always. Corpses, say the sources, are perfect tools for election abuse.

    The scam works like this. A registered voter dies near the registration deadline (Oct. 10 this year) but remains eligible. A hack sends somebody to pose as the dearly departed. If the fraudulent voter slips by poll watchers, the "ghost" ballot glides through.

    Is this fraud prevalent? Nobody can say. Conventional wisdom suggests not. Then again, Fani Papanikolau's story raises questions.

    Papanikolau, a 37-year-old Democratic committeewoman from Feltonville, cast an absentee vote in the 1993 primary. That is, Papanikolau voted in the 42nd Ward on behalf of a woman who was absent — permanently. She had departed the earth six months before. Papanikolau later owned up to 22 counts of election fraud when busted.

    Beyond "ghosts," many non-Philly residents reportedly vote. This long-standing method boils down to strong city ties and vested interests.

    Say a former city resident with family members in politics has moved to the 'burbs. The resident maintains a Philly address (usually a one-time residence or a business), then shows up at the polls. Easy to pull and very hard to detect (though not impossible — election officials caught a Wildwood, NJ resident voting during the '93 election).'

    Then there are empty lot registrations. If somebody registers right before deadline at the address of a vacant lot, say sources, there's not enough time for investigators to catch up.

    One can also enlist voters at places such as homeless shelters, halfway houses, pretty much any address. Voight and others claim many people register to obtain welfare benefits. Indeed, a man went to prison last year after bilking $9,000 worth of emergency food stamps via 50 false voter registrations.

    Ultimately, the only safeguard on Election Day is the polling judge and observers. Some don't see this as much of a barrier.

    "People [working the polls] don't ask for IDs," says Jimmy Tayoun, a former First District City Councilman and noted political felon.

    Indeed, as the Inky revealed last year, many inspectors and judges are out-of-state residents, which is a clear violation of Pennsylvania election laws.

    Further, one woman convicted of election fraud in the Second Senatorial vote scandal of 1993 worked at the 19th Division polls during 1994.

    "Residence is a very difficult legal issue, and challenges are even tougher," concedes Voight. "So New Jersey residents with strong party ties can [cheat]. Am I concerned about non-residents registering to vote? Of course. But to what extent is it happening? Myth does not necessarily have anything to do with fact."

    There are few means for stopping non-residents, "ghosts" or double-voters from pulling a lever once they are improperly registered. Look at the city's outdated method of ferreting out false registrations and one sees why.

    Election officials mail postcards to registered voters. If a card comes back undelivered, investigators raise an eyebrow and the name is stricken from the rolls. Simple, right?

  4. How about 100s in New Hampshire, Jodine?

  5. 900 dead people vote in South Carolina?

  6. Buy a pack of cigarettes, need Photo ID to wand and confirm.
    Buy a bottle of booze, need photo ID.
    Taking a flight to anywhere, need a photo ID.

    Vote? I must be a racist.

    More fraud...


    Jodine?? Are you seeing/reading these? Still think there is no fraud that should be managed better?

    So the guy vootes all the time, but knows he can get out of jury duty for not being a citizen. How funny is that? There are how many illegal aliens in Florida?

  8. Voter ID bill passed!!

    On to Governors desk for signing!

    Add this Voter ID law as the 2nd RIGHT we have that requires ID.

    The first being the 2nd amendment.

    Need a drink? Need ID.
    Need to fly? Need ID.
    Want to buy a gun? Need ID.
    Want to be married? Need ID.

    Seems like a simple step.