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Yesterday Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson, Jr. refused to suspend the pernicious Pennsylvania voter id law that could stop as many as 10% of the voters in the state from casting a ballot this November, handing a traditionally blue presidential state to Mitt Romney.  Right now, President Obama's lead in Penn is not wide enought to outstrip the result of this disenfranchisement.  A lot of what's going on in the Romney campaign looks like unhinged floundering, but I believe, coupled with attempts at voter suppression in Penn, Ohio, and Florida that it's part of a very real and calculated strategy.

Fire up the base. Suppress the vote. And steal it.

First off, I love Pennsylvania.  I spend all week working in DC and living in a matchbox apartment in Maryland and when Friday rolls around, I cannot wait to get home to my real home in southern Pennsylvania.  I live right down town in a wonderful old former "Rust Belt" city that's starting to find it's way in the new post industrial economy.  It's a reliably blue urban small city floating in a sea of rural red.  It seems like a great new small business is opening every week - it's the kind of place I like to call home and where I want to invest my money.  I'm from Texas and as a 'transplant Yankee' - withholding all jokes about southern Penna being "Pennsyltucky" - the place just feels like home to me.  

But Pennsylvania has a peculiar voting dichotomy.  If you highlight the map with the voting breakdown by county, you'll see that in terms of geography it's largely a red state.  What makes it blue is the massive population of voters found in the big cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on either side of the state.  If you take those two cities and their urban, reliably Democratic populations offline, then Pennsylvania becomes solid red.  And it's precisely voters in those regions of the state that the new voter id law seeks to target.  

For the latest news on the law and where it stands in the courts, please see this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The law has now been sent to the State Supreme court which, because one of its justices is under investigation, now has a 3-3 split.  A tie ruling would allow the law to stand.  Here's the money quote:

Republicans pushed the law through the legislature with a party-line vote, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) famously declared that the law would help GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney win the state. Democrats pounced on that, contending it proved the law was concocted for political reasons.

If the high court splits 3-3 on the issue, Simpson's ruling would remain intact. For the Supreme Court to settle the case, one justice would have to buck his or her party.

Observers are particularly focused on the role Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a Republican, could play.

Castille irked some Republicans when he delivered the majority opinion this year that threw out a plan by GOP lawmakers to redraw Pennsylvania's legislative map. His role in the voter ID case could burnish his party bona fides or burn them.

"We already had one political test case, and he was the swing vote," said G. Terry Madonna, who directs the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College.

I don't think it's conspiracy mongering to be genuinely concerned about voter suppression as a path to GOP power this year.  As I have diaried in the past, half the nation has passed some form of voter ID law since 2008 and those laws target President Obama's base voters: urban liberals, African Americans, and Latinos.  In addition, these laws also target a portion of the GOP's reliable base: the elderly.  But with Paul "Kill Medicare" Ryan on the ticket, that voting bloc appears poised to swap to the Dems.  

It's with this knowledge in hand that we can begin to understand Mitt Romney's "unhinged" (the Obama campaign's words) campaign style.  Romney insulted the NAACP as a dog whistle to racists, he insulted our European allies as a dog whistle to xenophobes and American exceptionalists, he's the most anti-immigration GOP presidential candidate in 20 years, he's embraced the extreme anti-women policies of the fringe of his party - in short, formerly "moderate" Romney has, in his own words, come out as a "severe conservative."  Naming the darling of the Tea Party Paul Ryan to the ticket is merely the icing on the cake.  

And everyone in the Beltway is asking the same question - WHY?  Why is a candidate for national election working so hard to anger moderates and swing voters?  Why is he appealing to fans of Ayn Rand instead of grandma's on Social Security?  Why is he working so hard to widen his party's gender gap?  Surely, they say, this is a losing strategy - by trying to appeal to the fringe of his party, he's handing Obama the election, right?  RIGHT???

Under ordinary circumstance, that would be "right," but this year that's not the case.  If you look at these actions as a part of a concerted strategy it all makes sense.  Basically, the strategy is the mother of all "Hail Mary Passes" - but it very well could work.  It goes like this: do everything you can to fire up your base while at the same time, by hook or by crook, suppress the other guy's base.  Then you only have to rely on a squeaker win in a couple of counties in a couple of states to shift the whole nation your way.  It allows you to target resources very narrowly, and for election officials in control of only a couple of pivotal precincts to have tremendous power in our admittedly very partisan, very divided country.  

I bring this issue up because - with a few exceptions in the liberal media - this story is hovering at the fringes of the news.  And, honestly, it's the most important story of this election cycle.  I think it's pretty clear that the GOP is turning this into the ultimate base election - their strategy to this point makes perfect sense in that light.  

Originally posted to CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You tricked me! (12+ / 0-)

    I read the title with a glance, and was disappointed there was no STEELER stuff in it!

    Especially since the Rooney's campaigned for (then candidate) Obama during the primaries!

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:32:17 AM PDT

  •  I truly hope (10+ / 0-)

    the voters in pa, aren't sitting around moaning, but registering the thousands of young voters with driver's licenses and state id cards for a major 'souls to the polls' event this nov.

  •  I've put ALEC in your tags. (11+ / 0-)

    They're the ones pushing these laws. Here's the list of PA ALEC members. Although Turzai claims to no longer be a member, the guy who sponsored the law in the legislature, Daryl Metcalf, is a member of ALEC and sits on their Public Safety and Elections Task Force. You can hear Metcalf bloviating in this NPR interview from yesterday's Fresh Air. Here's a quote from that interview:


    DAVIES: Representative, before I let you go, I do have to address this one question. A lot has been made of a videotaped comment by Mike Turzai. You know him well. He's the state House majority leader in Pennsylvania. When speaking at a Republican state committee meeting, he was talking about legislative accomplishments, and he said, you know, voter ID, which will allow Governor Romney to win Pennsylvania, has been enacted.

    And people have looked at that and said this - that there is a partisan motive here. Republicans think when this is done, it will help them because fewer Democrats will get to the polls. What about that?

    METCALFE: Well, I think there's partisan motive to the opposition. I think that's because the majority of Democrats that are trying to stop voter photo ID don't want to see the fraud stopped. I think Mike Turzai's comments were in the context of if we stop the fraud, then a Republican in a Democrat-leaning state can still have an opportunity to win.

    But we know from the Obama administration's quick review of our law, what the Department of Justice is now doing, trying to claim that they're investigating our law when it's based on the model legislation in Indiana that was held up to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, you know, all of the opposition, from the NAACP, the ACLU, all the Democrats that voted against this in the House and the Senate in Pennsylvania, they are trying to protect status quo.

    I believe they're trying to protect the fraud that they know they have happen at the polls that allow some of them to win.

    DAVIES: You think Democrats are perpetrating widespread fraud at the polls?

    METCALFE: I believe that Democrats are perpetrating fraud at the polls, and I believe that they know that by allowing status quo, by not requiring photo voter ID, that yes, Democrats have a better chance to win because they have a better chance to corrupt the process.

    I think that's where the attention should be changed. I mean, everybody's focused on Mike Turzai's comments about, yeah, Mitt Romney can win because of voter photo ID. Well, you know, why shouldn't everybody want a level playing field? Jimmy Carter did. Why are all these other Democrats afraid to actually allow us to have a process in place that identifies that somebody is who they claim to be when they show up to vote other than they're protecting status quo, they're protecting the fraud that's been perpetrated, and they want to ensure that the fraud can continue by groups like ACORN and others that support their left-leaning policies.

    DAVIES: You're right that Turzai didn't say it's going to give us the election. His point was when you allow an honest election, then we have a chance to win. I grant you that. But what evidence can you offer that Democrats are stealing elections in Pennsylvania? I mean, this is a pretty serious accusation.

    METCALFE: What I've just said is that by them defending the status quo, they're defending the ability to corrupt the process, and the process has been corrupted. And why else would somebody defend allowing the process to be corrupted unless they were benefitting from it?

    Note the pretzel logic: The fact that Democrats object to Voter ID Laws is "proof" that voter fraud is taking place.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:42:31 AM PDT

    •  Very good, thank you. (5+ / 0-)

      I thought that was one of my typo-o's!  Yes - it's pretty clear the whole thing was an ALEC-sponsored concerted effort.  I think the missing piece of the question is - just HOW concerted is it?  Is the Romney campaign just playing up a favorable situation or this something that's actively discussed as strategy.

      I expect the latter.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 07:47:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The same ALEC Task Force (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, RockyMtnLib, Mannie

      That produced the fill-in-the-blank Stand Your Ground Laws.
      15 of the 47 cosponsors of The PA Voter ID law have documented ties to ALEC, and while many PA ALEC members have run away from the bill mill after the Trayvon Martin shooting, none of those 15 have.

      At it's core, this bill was motivated by pure, unadulterated racism. These guys can't stand the thought of large blocks urban minorities having any say in anything. That is what they mean when they talk about "fair elections" - elections dominated by low info white suburban and rural voters. And it's not just the Voter ID Law - look at the PA Congressional redistricting, which, through one little squiggle of a gerrymander, effectively eliminated any voice or vote in Congress for the overwhelmingly minority and Democratic capital city of Harrisburg for at least the next ten years.

      It's an open secret that everyone involved in passing this law is in on. Turzai is the State House Majority Leader, not Forrest Gump. He saw hard numbers showing what this law would do in Philly before he made his boast to a partisan State Committee crowd. If they could, this gang would hydraulically fracture Philly loose from the SE corner of the state and float it to Newark, but disenfranchising people of color in the name of "fairness" is the next best thing.

  •  NOTV (7+ / 0-)

    In past elections, Karl Rove's strategy has been GOTV - Get Out The Vote. Looks like the Republicans are adding an additional strategy this year - NOTV - Nullify Out Their Vote.

    •  Buckley once said... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, a2nite, FindingMyVoice, Ohiodem1

      ...that a conservative is a person who stands athwart history and shouts stop!  It's true.  History has begun to move ever faster in recent years.  We have the widest age gap in world history in the United States - people who joined the KKK and suported segregation "now and fore-evah" are voting right alongside their mixed-race great grand children.  This crazy world we live in right is moving further and faster away from what GOP types consider "their country."  As a result, what we see as "politics" they view as outright war.  And in war there is very little room for morality.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:20:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And don't forget RTV (4+ / 0-)

      RIG the vote.  Surely there will be some shenanigans behind the scenes as well given NO paper trail.

  •  In spite of sullying the Steelers (4+ / 0-)

    I will rec this for the content  :)  I know, it says "Stealers," but still.

    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:11:39 AM PDT

  •  You are correct about the blue and red areas (4+ / 0-)

    of the state but something cool happened in 2008,  two Central PA counties went blue:  Centre County where Penn State is located and little Elk County, and I believe also Dauphin County. Also the Scranton area is reliably Democratic as well as Erie in the northwest corner of the state.

    It is mostly Pittsburgh and Philly but also Erie, Scranton, State College, and often Harrisburg.

    Also Allentown is becoming bluer as well and the Lehigh Valley.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:17:13 AM PDT

    •  I think... (3+ / 0-)

      ...Allentown is frankly the new Philly in terms of politics, due to all the spillage from NYC.  I know half a dozen people that live there and work in NYC the way I do with DC.  I admit I didn't realize Centre County had gone blue.  Do you think that's a trend?  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:50:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are hoping it is a trend , depends on who (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mannie, CrazyHorse

        decides to reside there long time following college graduation and how many grad students and professors are voting regularly and other factors.  But it is gradually becoming more liberal.

        Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

        by wishingwell on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:59:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How I knew Centre County was becoming bluer (3+ / 0-)

    were the pictures we were seeing of students at Penn State lined up to vote all day with lines extending for blocks.

    Centre County is the dead center of the state and most people now know that because of the Sandusky crime and the trial but it is becoming bluer. Remember the press conference after the Guilty verdict where a few people shouted...

    When are you going after Corbett?
    LOL, we loved it.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:19:16 AM PDT

    •  What's the polling... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, jakewaters

      ...situation like near Penn State?  Will students be able to vote in large numbers?  Are there enough polls?

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:55:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Plenty of PSU Student Polling Access (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wishingwell, Mannie, CrazyHorse

        There is a polling location for on-campus PSU student residents at the student union building (HUB) in the center of campus, so access is not a issue.  A very large number of students live off-campus; borough polling places are easily accessible.  The issue, as always, is pre-election voter registration education, which will be, obviously, crucial this election, no matter happens with the appeal.  Penn State will be providing expiration stickers on student ID cards, which will make the currently undated cards eligible as valid ID. . . . On election day 2008, i saw incredibly long lines at the campus polling place and read stories of students leaving before voting, due to the long waits.  Historically, though, a depressingly low number vote on campus.  

        •  as a State College native, you are right, but so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          many students live off campus too but I was pleased 4 years ago to see long lines on campus too.  Granted, some students who are freshmen or sophomores living on campus vote absentee for their home area. But an increasing number of students , especially grad students, vote in State College.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:57:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Voting Rights (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Has been my pet project for a long time...since undergraduate school.  I was a student at the University of North Texas in Denton - it's an uber liberal party school famous for its music program and library college.  Across town is Texas Women's University - another liberal  institution.  The city and county, however, were deep red.  Not only were we not allow polls on campus - we weren't allowed polls anywhere NEAR campus...or bus routes, for that matter.  They made it impossible to allow students to vote.  A poll in the Unions would have given 60,000 students and faculty easy voting access.  

          So it's always been a pet peeve of mine when conservatives attempt to limit access to the ballot.  If we could increase Democratic turnout in the USA by just 10% a Republican would have a hard time getting elected.  

          No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

          by CrazyHorse on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:47:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think you are on to something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Janie14, Mannie, CrazyHorse

    If they could somehow flip PA, all bets are off.

    I've been hanging my hat on the fact that we supposedly have not been advertising in PA, which leads me to the conclusion that the margin they feel they have is more than enough to mitigate the lower turnout.

    And lets face it, with the shenanigans that are sure to be going on in Florida, that will be a very heavy lift this time.

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    by jkay on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:21:57 AM PDT

  •  Something interesting we are seeing in PA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, FindingMyVoice

    at OFA meetings and GOTV are Republicans for Obama.  They are often older and just never got around to changing their political party. This one woman told me that people in Central PA are Republicans because their parents and grandparents were so they automatically registered Republican from the time they could vote. She said she needed help figuring out how to change her party affiliation.  

    So we are getting a number of Republicans for Obama helping us and they are very good volunteers. But they are more than RINOS, they just never changed parties officially.  

    We have what I call a lot of Eisenhower old time Republicans here who are very moderate and vote across party lines.  

    We had one teabagger rally 2 years here and it ended ujp with 2 people falling into the river and having to be rescued because they slippedi in mud trying to throw tea bags into the river. Then the State Police were angry at them and the Fish and Game Commission put an end to their teabauchery too.   LOL

    Yes we have teabaggers but you would be surprised in Central PA that we do not see them or hear from them much at all...about all we get here are letters to the editor from a few baggers and they hide out otherwise and thiis is a Red County.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:25:18 AM PDT

    •  This is my experience... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, Sue B, wishingwell

      ...down in York as well.  There are a lot of old time Republicans in Penn who seem to feel like the GOP has left them.  It's a different experience from back in Texas that I'm still getting used to.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:54:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  excuse if repeat to thread (5+ / 0-)
    PA state elections officials have until the middle of next week to supply information to Obama's Department of Justice, which is looking at Pennsylvania's law and has moved to block voter ID laws in other states. Another lawsuit is pending from the state's second most populous county, Allegheny County.
    post url 08/16/12

    Vice President Dick Cheney famously declared in 2002, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

    by anyname on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:31:37 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this important diary. (5+ / 0-)

    This is a real conspiracy with real consequences. When I think about it, it makes me feel sick. You can be winning handily in the polls but still lose. I find it hard to believe that nothing can be done about this blatant conspiracy to steal the election.

    The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

    by Anne Elk on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:42:51 AM PDT

    •  I'll say it until I'm blue in the face (0+ / 0-)

      the AG should order all states with those laws to cease enforcement immediately and expunge them within 24 hours OR ARRESTS WILL BE MADE.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:51:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  . . . (0+ / 0-)

        Holder: Remove those laws now. Do I make myself clear?

        PA, FL, OH officials "Er, um . . ."

        Holder: "DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR???!!!

        liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

        by RockyMtnLib on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 05:56:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

          ...the response would be: shove it.  We'll see you in court - after the election, if you're still around.  It's hardball tactics.  

          No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

          by CrazyHorse on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:48:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The question is, if Obama looses an election in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CrazyHorse, Mannie

    which 10% of the electorate is disenfranchised by obvious shenanigans, should he conceede?

    •  I asked this question once before... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, kingfishstew, FindingMyVoice

      ...and I don't know the answer.  And I don't friggin' want to know that answer.  But I keep doing these kinds of diaries because the activist left was caught off guard on this in 2000 and it can NEVER happen again.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:52:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Evil in America is winning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:00:28 PM PDT

  •  there's nothing conspiratorial about (0+ / 0-)

    pointing out the facts. Fact: Republicans literally stole the White House in 2000 with compliant, corrupt Republican cronies on the U.S. Supreme Court deciding, for the first time in history, to not allow Florida's automatic recount law to be used, despite that the court left the law intact for all future elections. Fact: Republicans did everything conceivable to disenfranchise and intimidate voters they didn't want to vote in Ohio, and the result: George Walker Bush squeaked back into office by virtue of the fact of having carried Ohio. Fact: Republicans have deliberately gone about trying to disenfranchise voters in as many states as possible this year with needless voter ID laws that, disprorporationately, affect Democratic voters.

    The question in my mind is: How long with the voters in the country and in these states allow Republicans to get away with their blatantly dishonest, unethical, ammoral filth politics of deliberately trying to steal and maniuplate votes?

    Any one who votes Republican...for ANY simply not using their brain.

  •  Tipped for spelling the name of the NFL team (0+ / 0-)

    correctly in the diary title!

    A Die-Hard Ravens Fan :p

    Fuck the mythical “moral high ground”. There’s plenty of time to shower after the election. (h/t danah gaz (fka gaz) @ Balloon-Juice)

    by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 01:52:41 PM PDT

  •  If 10% of Pa marched on the capital (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they might think twice.

    Plus, of course, all the others supporting the marchers.

    Who do you believe, Waffle Willard or Lyin' Ryan???

    by Da Rock on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:09:14 PM PDT

  •  T&R'd . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    . . . for "Stealers". Magnificent.

    The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

    by semiAdult on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 02:58:56 PM PDT

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