August 5th, 2012
By Johnny Tremaine -- As the lawsuit alleging GOP illegal voter suppression in Pennsylvania plays out -- it became apparent that Republican government officials called to testify were embarrassingly ignorant of what was contained in the document
-- and incompetent with regard to whether or not there was even any so-called "voter fraud" that is was supposedly designed to protect Pennsylvanians from.
After Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the measure into law in March, voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil
Liberties Union and the NAACP, filed lawsuits challenging it. They said the law will deter elderly and minority voters, who are less likely to have photo identification, from voting. These groups tend to vote Democratic. Proponents say the law will prevent voter fraud.
Lorraine Minnite, a Rutgers University expert on voter fraud, testified in the lawsuit that the voter fraud the law was designed to protect against or prevent -- was "exceedingly rare."
She added, in further detail, "I'm just not persuaded -- in the absence of evidence -- it exists,"
Before the trial itself began, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State is on record saying that more than 758,000 people, or 9 percent of
Pennsylvania voters, do not have a drivers license or photo ID required by the law to register. Matt Barreto, a political scientist from the University of Washington, testified that his analysis reveals that 1.3 million eligible Pennsylvania voters lack such ID.
Even worse, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele said during her testimony that she didn't really know exactly how the law
worked or how many voters would be impacted. Her office is in charge of elections in the state, and her office would also be in charge of implementing and enforcing the voter ID law.
Kurt Myers, deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Transportation Department, said the agency has not increased staff or supplies to
accommodate additional people seeking an ID. He also said many people are unable to complete the process because they lack the proper documents, according to a summary of his testimony provided to CBS News by the Advancement Project, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
"The information is just not getting out quick enough" to inform voters of the new requirements, John Jordon, director of civic
engagement for the NAACP, testified during the trial hearings. He said sufficient voter education was impossible in the short period of time available between now and the November elections.
Pennsylvania is one of ten states to passing potentially vote suppressing voter ID laws in the past year. Six such laws are being challenged
in the courts or by the Justice Department. The Justice Department blocked Texas and South Carolina's laws but the states are challenging the federal government's actions in court. Separate from this court case, The Justice Department has initiated an investigation into Pennsylvania's law -- but has not yet ruled.
Pennsylvania state representative and House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, may have inadvertently -- or intentionally, to brag -- revealed the actual GOP motive behind the so-called "voter ID" laws enacted this year.
He infamously stated -- on video -- that the law "is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania" in the Presidential election. One might wonder why a pure and innocent little voter ID law would have a potential like the one he mentioned, independent of simply assuring a fair and legal election in the state of Pennsylvania -- its stated -- and highly lauded -- intent.
National polling indicates that Romney is running behind by 11 points in Pennsylvania, pushing the state to the precipice of "not in play" status for the presidential election. Both campaigns have allegedly already pulled advertising out of the state because of that.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, the judge presiding over the case in Pennsylvania state court, hopes to have a decision before mid-August. We enthusiastically await that decision - your honor!