If you’ve been following the issue or reading this blog, you know that Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law, the strictest such law in the nation, will not be in effect for this years election cycle. The Republican run state government rammed the law through the legislature, and made no effort to hide the political intent behind Voter ID. As independent analysts examined the amount of citizens the law could potentially disenfranchise, they urged the government to slow down, to roll the law out over time so that all eligible voters who wanted one could get the required ID. Gov. Corbett ignored them and instead rolled out a multimillion dollar ad blitz telling PA residents they would need an ID to vote this year, even though the law was being challenged in the court system. Disenfranchising voters wasn’t a bug; it was a feature.
When the law was eventually put on hold for this years election, many saw this as a victory for voter’s rights advocates and a defeat for the state GOP.
The courts ruling was neither.
Sure, the law won’t be in effect for this years election. People who do not have the required ID will still be permitted to vote. Yay.
But the law is still on the books. It was not struck down, only placed on pause. But the larger problem is the damage that has already been done. As I said, the state ran a multimillion dollar ad blitz earlier in the year telling people they needed to show ID to vote this year. And that information was also on the state voter information hotline as well as every government website dealing with elections. When the court ruled the law couldn’t be enforced for this years election cycle, there was no multimillion dollar ad blitz informing PA residents of that fact. The “Show It” television commercials are still running, with a minor change in wording that states “you will be asked for but not required to provide” ID to vote. After the court ruling, the voter information hotline continued telling callers they needed ID to vote until a staffer at The Rachael Maddow Show called and complained. As far as I know all the local election board webpages are now updated with the correct information, but they took their own sweet time making the changes. As I reported recently, at least one newspaper run by Trib Total Media has published articles claiming you still need to show ID to vote.
Sure, people without ID will not be legally prevented from voting this election cycle. But with the information out there, how many will stay home on election day believing they need an ID to vote?
Add this one to that list of conflicting information. From ThinkProgress:
The latest misleading claim comes from CBS Pittburgh radio station KDKA, which is running an ad claiming that voters will need photo identification to go to the polls on November 6th, despite the fact that while voters may be asked to show ID, it is not required to vote. The ad aired on October 26, around 7:30 am immediately after a weather report for the Pittsburgh area. “The Voter ID law was just recently signed by the governor,” an unidentified woman in the ad says:
NARRATOR: When you need to vote–
WOMAN: The voter ID law was just recently signed by the governor.
NARRATOR: You need to know –
WOMAN: You’re not going to be allowed to vote unless you present an acceptable photo identification. Get to a PennDOT licensing center and get a photo ID at the drivers’ license center.
NARRATOR: It’s your right, it’s your duty, it’s your choice –
WOMAN: And you will need an acceptable ID in order for you to vote.
Click on through to ThinkProgress if you want to listen to the ad yourself. Continuing:
But it also follows a trend of misleading information in the state — like billboards and television ads, as well as reports from local governments — that has become so rampant voting rights’ groups have asked a court to step in to stop the wrong information from spreading.
So proud to be a Pennsylvanian right now.