Political Animal


July 24, 2012 12:14 PM Where’s the Beef?

By Ed Kilgore

Ryan J. Reilly of TPM is reporting a remarkable bit of news from the latest ground zero of the war on voting, Pennsylvania:

As the Justice Department investigates Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on the federal level, a coalition of civil rights groups is gearing up for a state trial starting Wednesday examining whether the law is allowable under Pennsylvania’s constitution.
In that case, Pennsylvania might have handed those groups and their clients…a bit of an advantage: They’ve formally acknowledged that there’s been no reported in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and there isn’t likely to be in November.
The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”
Additionally, the agreement states Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue “that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.”

So what’s the point of the new law, other than, as GOP legisative leader Mike Turzai has happily predicted, that it “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania”? An estimated 750,000 registered voters will potentially be affected by this law, having done nothing wrong that anyone can document. Yes, many middle-class voters can’t personally identify with people who go through life without driver’s licenses and a wallet full of credit cards and other forms of ID—but they exist in remarkably large numbers.

I don’t know how the State of Pennsylvania hopes to prevail in this lawsuit, but I do plan to echo its stipulations whenever vague allegations of widespread “voter fraud” pop up, as they eternally do, amongst the conservative chattering classes.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Peter C on July 24, 2012 12:31 PM:

    But the law is in place now. Will the lawsuit be settled before the election?

    Will the bad ID law be used to explain otherwise odd results reported by the paperless voting machines used in PA?

    The fix is in. We've got to correct our glaring election flaws.


    When the task of counting the vote is entrusted to obvious partisans like Katherine Harris and Kenneth Blackwell, we don't really have a democracy.

  • c u n d gulag on July 24, 2012 1:07 PM:

    Voter Fraud:
    A solution in search of a problem.

    The Conservatives have been doing this type of thing more and more over the years.

    Invade Iraq.
    Listen-in and monitor citizen's communications.

  • Mitch on July 24, 2012 1:07 PM:

    What I find most interesting is that the few people I know who lack proper ID are nearly all "conservative" loons. They avoid ID cards out of fear of/hate for the government.

    Now, I know - as Turzai admits - that the GOP is trying to disenfranchise poor people and minorities with such laws. But I cannot help but wonder if they have taken into account how many of their own supporters lack proper ID.

    Probably not; the GOP isn't eactly known for having deep thoughts about the possible ramifications of their actions. Still, it would be hilarious (and fitting) if such laws ended up disenfranchising Republican voters as much as, or more than, Dems.

  • Bob on July 24, 2012 1:13 PM:


    Today's "Doonesbury" calls it the new Jim Crow.

  • Zorro on July 24, 2012 1:22 PM:

    I speak as a PA resident.

    The best that we can hope for this fall is that a court order puts a hold on the implementation of this neo-Jim Crow law for this November. The best chance of that would require the Justice Department to press the courts to hear its case quickly, and not let it drag on through the election.


  • Barbara on July 24, 2012 1:41 PM:

    My understanding is that there are two lawsuits -- one citing the PA constitution (of which I am totally ignorant, having not lived in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years), and the other the federal lawsuit under a federal statute.

    The stipulation is in the state case -- the federal case is just beginning (is it even a lawsuit yet?).

    Anyway, to respond to Mitch, I visited my mother over the weekend and she said that if you drill down into who is affected, it turns out that a lot of people in the Pennsyltucky counties of central Pennsylvania might also be affected, but for sheer numbers, Philadelphia is the most affected.

  • dweb on July 24, 2012 1:55 PM:

    And as TPM noted recently, the state has issued a quarter million buck contract to a PR firm tasked with "explaining" the new ID law to voters.


    As you can no doubt decipher by careful reading of the above URL the folks who won the contract are largely former GOP government flacks.

    A quarter million bucks to buy the services of party hacks to explain a law which is totally unnecessary.

    Meanwhile, any time Governor Corbett has been asked why funds are being cut for home health care, regulation of fracking, higher education or community development, his standard answer is: "We don't have the money."

  • T2 on July 24, 2012 2:14 PM:

    this story is getting alot of play in the Media (surprisingly) and pretty well puts the Judge in the case on a spot. If he rules the ID is OK, he'll look like a fool or a tool, or both.
    Estimates are 18% of REGISTERED voters in Philly would be disenfranchised by this ID scam if enacted. Philly is an Obama stronghold.

  • Mitch on July 24, 2012 2:17 PM:


    Thanks for the info.

    Let's hope that no voters (either Dem or GOP) are disenfranchised by pointless schemes like this. Nobody deserves to lose their fundamental right because of the GOP's war on a crime that does not exist.

    Also, as a prodigal son of Kentucky, I laughed extremely hard at "Pennsyltucky" ... I've never heard that phrase before, but having visted rural Pennsylvania as a youth, I can totally understand it.

  • JR on July 24, 2012 2:18 PM:

    Same shenanigans in the Badger State, including a GOP state legislator claiming it will help Romney...

  • Mudge on July 24, 2012 2:21 PM:

    It's the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Not that it lives up to that name these days.

  • Ron Byers on July 24, 2012 2:23 PM:

    Besides lawsuits what are Democrats doing to combat this law? An early door to door GOTV campaign? Television ads? Anything?

    If they play this right Democrats can really make hay actively opposing the law.

  • TCinLA on July 24, 2012 2:31 PM:

    anyone who doubts this is a wingnut conspiracy need only go over to the Maddow Blog and see the number of wingnut trolls that showed up in the comments on this subject there.