Over the summer, the Commonwealth Court heard arguments during a 12-day trial challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law. The law, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Corbett in the spring of 2012, would prevent legitimate registered voters from casting a ballot if they did not have an approved form of photo identification. So far, court injunctions have prevented the law from being enforced, and voters will NOT need to show an ID for the general election next month.
“The fact that the law has not yet been enforced has not prevented the law from causing irrevocable harm by disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters in the past year;” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale.
The Department of State maintained an aggressive “public education” leading up to the 2012 general election, to inform voters that they would be unable to vote without an approved photo ID – and some of these ads and mailings continued even after the law was blocked. These ads ultimately provided misinformation to voters, and Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley agreed:
“There is no value in inaccurate information, and the Court does not deem inaccurate information educational,” read a portion of a Court order following this summer’s trial. “Telling a qualified elector that he or she will not have the right to vote in future elections if he or she does not obtain compliant photo ID, when that information has been erroneous at best, deceptive at worst, will not be continued. Not when this Court has witnessed two prior injunctions where the information, in effect, misled qualified electors.”
Unfortunately, and in spite of this rebuke, the State has now restarted broadcasts of their infamous “Show It” ads, committing $1 million of PA taxpayer money to inform voters that they will be asked to show ID when they vote in November, even though voters are not subject to any such requirement. While the ads have been edited so they no longer say that an ID will be required in order to vote, the confusion that will result from these television ads is obvious.
“There is no question that voters will be misled by this new round of advertising, resulting in more legitimate voters being disenfranchised;” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder. “Our own research has proven that over 35,000 eligible voters were disenfranchised in the November 2012 election as a result of confusion over the status of the Voter ID law. This new round of advertising will do even further harm.”
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is calling on the Corbett administration to immediately stop the advertisements, and to stop wasting taxpayer money on a campaign that seems designed to confuse and mislead Pennsylvania voters.
“The ads that are currently running, have maintained the line that says ‘If you want to vote, show it!’ alongside the image of a woman holding up her photo ID card;” pointed out President Bloomingdale. “Regardless of other edits made to the advertisement, there is no way the administration can justify that sort of misleading campaign. It has to stop now.”