Who Cares If the Law Got Put on Hold? The GOP Got What They Wanted

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:

The ad is particularly confounding because KDKA itself has reported on the recentdecisions regarding the voter ID law.

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.



Speaking of Voter Suppression

Remember a couple of weeks ago when a Pennsylvania Judge ruled that the new Voter ID law in PA wouldn’t be in effect for the 2012 election cycle?  Me neither!*  And neither does Trib Total Media or their one newspaper, the Mount Pleasant Journal.  First a little background information on the movers and shakers of this story, courtesy of ThinkProgress:

The Mount Pleasant Journal is one of several newspapers run by Trib Total Media, a media conglomerate owned by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife’s foundation donated hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative organizations ranging from the American Enterprise Institution to the Federalist Society, and he currently serves as vice-chairman of the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s board of trustees.

Now ones political views do not remove your ability to publish an unbiased newspaper.  Not every piece of media put out by conservative run companies is destined to lean to the right, but I have first hand experience with Trib Total Media since I read Pittsburgh area newspapers, and it isn’t a secret that the Pittsburgh Tribune Review is basically a print version of Fox News.  You know, “fair” and “balanced”.  *winkwink*  In fact, it is such a known fact that the Tribune Review paid for a television ad campaign  to try and convince people that while their editorials and opinion pages heavily leaned to the right, their actual news department was unbiased.  (Objective News/ Conservative Views or something similar was their tagline.  If anyone can find the ad online, please link it for me.  It used to air during every damn Pirates game.)

And the common knowledge understanding of the Trib’s political leaning causes me to have a really hard time believing this is an honest mistake:

That was from the Mount Pleasant Journal.  Once again from ThinkProgress:

Last Thursday, at least one of Scaife’s newspapers printed an inaccurate story headlined “Photo ID required for November election,” when, in reality, a court order suspended the requirement that Pennsylvania voters show an ID or lose their right to vote.

the claim that voters will need to show ID in order to vote, as well as the claim that voters who do not show ID will be forced to cast a provisional ballot and then show ID later, are entirely false. The state of Pennsylvania is currently bound by a court order which permits voters without ID to cast normal ballots, not provisional ballots, and to have those ballots counted just like any other. Voters will still be asked to show ID at the polls, but may not be turned away or given a provisional ballot because they do not show it.

The Republicans in Pennsylvania pushed through the strictest voter ID law in the nation, admitted that it was a political move that would help Mitt Romney, and put out a multi-million dollar ad campaign to inform voters that they needed an ID to vote.  Once the law was put on hold for this year, the state suddenly seemed to lose interest in informing the public, as several government run websites claimed until last week that you needed ID to vote, and the PA voter information hotline stated that you needed ID to vote until a stafffer at The Rachael Maddow Show called the state and complained.  Even though the law was put on hold because it would have disenfranchised voters, the damage was done with the ad campaign.  And now right leaning newspapers are continuing the disinformation process.

Gov. Corbett and the state government needs to end this confusion and get the word out to all PA voters that they do not need an ID to vote this year.  They were more than willing to spend the money when their pet law was passed, now they need to undo the confusion they caused by trying to force a law like this onto the books in time for this years election.

But I won’t be holding my breath….


*Apologies to Mock, Paper, Scissors.