Thursday July 26 a forum on the Voter Id law's implementation was held at Montgomery County Community College (PA). The forum, hosted by Commissioner Leslie Richards, gathered a wide range of people from various communities together.
Among speakers were representatives from disabled and homeless groups, voter services, the Department of State of Pennsylvania, civic groups and lawyers. Regular folks were allowed to question and make statements after the panel's presentation.
(I am of the mindset the Voter Id laws may succeed in disenfranchising. I put up a snarky web site (www.JoeTheNerd.org) selling T-Shirts that say I was disenfranchised by the GOP and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt. To promote my site I printed up a bunch of flyers. Prior to the meeting I stood outside the room handing the literature out as if I were working the polls.)
The item that became crystal clear in the forum was - nothing is clear except the implementation of this law may kill the election process.
One attorney spoke from the dais that she was worried that fights would break out as voters would be denied their opportunity to vote. Her message was violence at the polls is never acceptable. On one level, I agree with her, but the irony of how many times we, as a country, commit violence in other places to secure 'democracy' was not lost on me. If we are having to talk in a public forum about the real threat of violence at the polls, maybe that should be a clue that this is a really bad law and needs to be overturned for public safety concerns. (If you want to REALLY go down the rabbit hole, some places cancel elections on the threat of violence.)
The most interesting comment came from a judge of elections. The judge of elections is the person in your neighborhood who runs the polls. It will be his job to tell folks they won't be able to vote. Judges get about $120 a day to run an election; usually twice a year. For this they are subjected to all sorts of penalties if something goes wrong at their polling place. Under this law, they are the ones who will look neighbors in the eye that they may have known for 20 or 30 years and tell them, "No, you cannot vote". This particular judge wondered whether he would be sick on Election Day. Actually, I think the judge is already sick of the idea that he will be put into this position. It simply isn't worth the hassle of a ton of punitive rules AND the threat of violence.
The Judges are put into the position of trying to implement a law that no one knows the rules for. Even Governor Corbett, the guy who designed and signed the law, has stated he doesn't know what forms of Id are valid. If he doesn't know how to apply this law, how do we expect the neighborhood guy or gal elected to run an election to figure it out?
The speaker from the Pennsylvania Department of State related that they would be making all sorts of exceptions to the law in order to allow people to vote. At one point, he stated that baptismal certificates would be used as an alternate form of Id to allow people to vote. Can someone show me in the law that was passed "baptismal certificates"? These guys are making it up as they go along. The Department of State is creating The Laws of Jello. They have put large numbers of voters at risk in the hopes of allowing a few people back into the game who have the time and resources to fight for themselves.
Some people have estimated that over $10,000,000 has been spent in attempting to implement this legislation. Another fun fact revealed by the Department of State Representative was federal funds are being used to implement this 'law'. If this law is shot down in the courts will the state refund the federal government? With the federal government have to sue the State of Pennsylvania for malfeasance?
The off-the-wall nature of how this law has been constructed will make it impossible to call the winner of the election for Pennsylvania until at least a week following the election. There is a potential for a large number of provisional ballots, those that may be allowed to be cast if you have questionable id. These are held for 6 days following the election to allow the voter the opportunity to actually prove they are a citizen. Even the idea of 6 days after the election was subject to confusion. It was noted 6 days were not 6 business days, but 6 calendar days, but because Veterans Day, a holiday, lands on the 6th day, the sixth day will actually be the 7th day. Also, there will be additional costs to implementing this law because county offices may have to remain open over the weekend after the election to deal with any voters' challenges. Can anyone say hanging chad?
Those who wrote and implemented this law need to be held accountable. If we are going to have this law, then we need to enforce it to the Nth degree - no exceptions, no making it up as we go along. Knock this law down in the courts BEFORE the first ballot is cast.