U.S. Justice Dept. Wants Info Relating to ‘99 Percent’ of Pennsylvania Voters
Late yesterday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice released a letter it sent to Carol Aichele, acting secretary of the Commonwealth, saying it will be probing Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law to make sure the state is in compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This section “prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups identified in Section 4(f)(2) [mainly American Indians and Alaskan natives] of the Act.” Most notably, though, the letter asks for some information the state of Pennsylvania perhaps cannot give. Like documents backing up Gov. Corbett’s oft-repeated, though unsubstantiated, assertion during the lead-up to the Pennsylvania Voter ID law’s signing (and since) that “99 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible voters already have acceptable photo ID.”
That letter and challenge has to do with the U.S. Constitution and is unrelated to the Voter ID case beginning tomorrow, which will challenge the law’s legality with the Pennsylvania state Constitution. Philadelphia Weekly has obtained and viewed the Justice Department’s letter—because it is public, and online.
Said letter asks Pennsylvania for several pieces of information both related to the law, and required by those fulfilling the law. Among the documents for which the Dept. of Justice is asking:
• The complete voter registration list, with all information (full names, date of birth, “identifying numbers”), voter history, race and address.
• The complete Pennsylvania driver’s license list, with similar identifying information.
• All documents “identifying registered voters who lack acceptable proof of identification” per the law.
• Any documents relating to the original statement that “99 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible voters already have acceptable photo IDs.”
• Documents backing up the new estimate that 9.2 percent of voters actually don’t have acceptable ID.
• Documents showing the Commonwealth has given the public the information they need to inform the public on the law.
• Documents showing Pennsylvania citizens can get an ID card “at no cost.”
Many of the above examples (there are more in the letter, which can be viewed here) have been challenged by a host of groups in the state, and have been included in tomorrow’s court challenge against the law.
Thus far, it appears the ‘99 Percent’ comment was based on nothing, and based on a fantasy, just like Aladdin. The Justice Department has previously blocked Voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, citing the Voting Rights Act, though Texas is challenging the blockage.