Democracy

Court Ruling an Acknowledgement of Flaws in Voter ID Implementation

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A Commonwealth Court ruling today has halted enforcement of Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law in the November election. Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, put out this statement on the decision:

The court’s decision is welcome news and an acknowledgement that the implementation of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law has been inadequate and has needlessly put the voting rights of many Pennsylvanians at risk. The decision allows voters, troubled over the hardship involved in obtaining an ID, to rest easier tonight.

This decision is an important but temporary fix. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has documented persistent and widespread confusion over this law among PennDOT staff and voters seeking IDs. The commonwealth must address these problems and demonstrate it is capable of constructing a clear system that gets eligible voters the ID they will need. If it cannot do so, the commonwealth must reconsider the law altogether.

You can read the center's most recent report on flaws in the commonwealth's implementation of voter ID.

Must Watch: MSNBC Highlights Voter ID Confusion in PA

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Last week, we told you about a new Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center report on flaws in the state's implementation of the Voter ID Law. On Saturday, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry highlighted the report in a segment on voter ID in Pennsylvania. Watch the short clip below. If you're craving more, click on the video to link to a longer 12-minute segment on voter ID laws across the country.

Third and State This Week: Confusion About Voter ID, Payday Lending in the Senate and Poverty-wage Jobs

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new report on the Voter ID Law, a bill to legalize high-interest payday lending now before the state Senate, poverty-wage jobs in Pennsylvania, and much more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On voter ID, Sharon Ward blogged about a new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on confusion surrounding the new law among PennDOT staff and voters alike. You can check out PBPC's full report here.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about legislation before the Senate to legalize payday loans with annual interest rates of 369%. He also explained that the writer of a letter to the editor in the Patriot-News supportive of the bill forgot to mention her group represents payday lenders.
  • On economic development, Mark Price wrote about local incentives in a Tennessee town intended to lure web developers.
  • On poverty, Mark Price reported that about 24% of Pennsylvania workers earned poverty wages in 2011.
  • On monetary policy, Mark Price highlighted two views on what the Federal Reserve can do to boost the economy. 
  • On education, Mark Price shared an Allentown Morning Call column offering a midterm report card on Governor Corbett's education policies.
  • And in a Friday Funny, we bring you an article by the satirical newspaper The Onion on how voter suppression in Pennsylvania isn't as fun as it used to be. 

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Friday Funny: "I Suppressed a Vote Today"

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The OnionBefore you head out for the weekend, we pass on a little Friday Funny from The OnionWith Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law in the news this week, it seems only appropriate to share this fake story about a Pennsylvania elections official lamenting that the vote he just suppressed may not even make a difference:

“Obama’s going to win here no matter who I disenfranchise, so what’s the point?” said [fake elections official Donald] Tobin, adding that if he lived in a true swing state like Florida or Ohio, his vote suppression might actually count for something. “Honestly, what’s it say about our electoral system when, even if I exercise my right to turn an elderly or enfeebled U.S. citizen away because he doesn’t have a driver’s license, it basically means nothing. That’s not democracy.” Though he was clearly disappointed, Tobin decided he would place an “I Suppressed a Vote Today” sticker on his jacket collar, anyway.

Confused About Voter ID? You’re Not Alone

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The eyes of the nation are truly turned to Pennsylvania as the ACLU is back in court today challenging Pennsylvania’s strictest-in-the-nation Voter ID Law. The Commonwealth Court is hearing evidence to determine whether the new Department of State voter ID will do the trick to ensure that anyone who needs an ID can get one, for free, in time to vote in November. If the state fails to make that case, the judge could issue an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect.

Early evidence seems to indicate that could happen. As Capitolwire.com has reported (subscription), Judge Simpson indicated Tuesday he will consider an injunction and has asked lawyers to be prepared to provide input on its scope and force. 

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a report on this topic exactly. The report, Moving Target: Pennsylvania’s Flawed Implementation of the Voter ID Law, asks the question: "How is PennDOT handling the new Department of State ID?" The answer, in layman’s terms, is simple: Not so good.

Third and State This Week: PA Jobs Advantage Recedes, Supreme Court Has Voter ID Concerns, Poverty Remains High and the Manufacturing Jobs Score

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the shrinking (and now disappeared) advantage Pennsylvania had over the national unemployment rate, concerns voiced by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over the Voter ID Law, the "manufacturing jobs score" by presidential administration, new data on poverty in Pennsylvania and much more. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg fact checked a recent assessment of the Corbett administration's jobs record, and Mark Price blogged about the August jobs report showing that the advantage Pennsylvania had over the national unemployment rate has disappeared.
  • On jobs and manufacturing, Stephen Herzenberg shared a commentary he co-authored with Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa on the "manufacturing jobs score" by presidential administration since 1948. 
  • On voter ID, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to send the legal challenge to the law back to the Commonwealth Court — and the concerns voiced by the court about the law's implementation.
  • On poverty, Chris Lilienthal highlighted media reports on new Census data on poverty in Pennsylvania and in major metro regions of the state. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center also put out an overview of the new Census data on poverty, income and health insurance.
  • On hunger, Jamar Thrasher blogged about how more colleges and universities are opening food banks for students who can't afford their next meal.
  • And in Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on Hershey's plan for a $300 million manufacturing plant and on Occupy Wall Street one year later.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

The Manufacturing Jobs Score Since 1948

After former President Bill Clinton claimed the "jobs score" was better in Democratic presidential administrations than in Republican ones, Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa and I did some research to see how presidential administrations scored on manufacturing job creation since Harry Truman.

Morning Must Reads: PA Supreme Court Raises Concerns About State's Implementation of Voter ID Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday sent the high-profile legal challenge to the state's Voter ID Law back to Commonwealth Court and instructed that court to again consider whether the law will disenfranchise voters. In the process, the justices voiced some concern about how the state is implementing the law.

The Supreme Court ruling specifically instructed the Commonwealth Court to review whether the procedures for issuing the new Department of State IDs "comport with the requirement of liberal access which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards." If the Commonwealth Court finds that the procedures do not, or is otherwise unconvinced that no voters will be disenfranchised because of the law's requirements, then the court "is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction," preventing the law from going into effect with the fall election. The Commonwealth Court has until Oct. 2 to issue its ruling.

Third and State This Week: Voter ID Before Supreme Court, Fewer Uninsured Americans & State Revenue Update

This week at Third and State, we blogged about Voter ID arguments before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, new Census data showing a decrease in the number of uninsured Americans, state revenue collections through August, and much more.

 IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the Voter ID Law, Jamar Thrasher wrote about arguments before the state Supreme Court in a legal challenge to the law during which a few justices raised concerns about the number of voters impacted and asked why the commonwealth was rushing to implement the law for the fall election.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about Census Bureau data released this week showing that more Americans were insured in 2011 than the year before, thanks largely to provisions of the Affordable Care Act. 
  • On income inequality and poverty, Mark Price wrote about the bad news in the Census data — incomes are down and poverty is up in Pennsylvania compared to before the recession. Chris had also blogged about what to expect in the Census data on poverty, income and health insurance.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood blogged about state revenue collections through August but noted that September will tell a fuller story about the state's revenue picture.
  • Finally, Mark Price had a Morning Must Read highlighting news stories on the Chicago teachers strike and an analysis of the job growth performance of past presidential administrations.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

PA Supreme Court Takes Up Voter ID Challenge

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As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case challenging the state's strict Voter ID Law, it was Justice Seamus McCaffery who observed that his identification as a justice of the Supreme Court would not be acceptable ID for him to vote under this law.

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