PA Voter ID Issue

JSPAN Newsletter - August 24, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

PA Voter ID Issue
Newsletter: August 24, 2012

Off Stage But He Still Has a Lot to Say
We're so proud of our own Ted Mann, JSPAN Board Member, who was recently featured in an in-depth interview by Bryan Schwartzman in The Jewish Exponent. Learn about Ted's new book,"If I am Only For Myself ... The American Jewish Community's Pursuit of Social Justice," and read about the insights he has gleaned from his history-making participation in the international political scene, his leadership in national Jewish life and his long-time activism for civil rights. - Ed.

The Jewish Exponent
By Bryan Schwartzman
August 15, 2012

Longtime communal leader Theodore "Ted" Mann laughed with his mouth full when asked if he really believes that voting Republican is inconsistent with Jewish values -- as he suggests in his new book.

"I think so," replied the 84-year-old, who for decades played a leading role in national Jewish organizational life. "To the extent that Republicans seem to care so little for the poor and the needy, and so much for those of us who don't need governmental help -- I think that's anti-Jewish."

Mann may be retired from his law practice, but he certainly hasn't retired from making controversial statements. And there are plenty of them contained in his newly self-published book If I am Only For Myself ... The American Jewish Community's Pursuit of Social Justice, which is available at

[read more]


Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a new Voter Identification Law that requires all voters to present a photo ID every time they go to the polls. There are also new rules about how to vote by absentee ballot. Thereafter, a coalition of civil rights organizations filed an application for a preliminary injunction with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania challenging the constitutionality of the new law. JSPAN joined in an amicus curiae brief filed by the Senior Law Center, AARP and others arguing that the law will adversely affect older Pennsylvanians, many of them Jewish. Although proponents of the new law contend that it will curb voter fraud, there is a dearth of evidence to support that contention.

The Commonwealth Court has now upheld the new law against challenge in advance of any actual rejection of a voter. It held the law "facially" constitutional. Last week, the petitioners filed their appeal as of right with The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania asking the high court to hear the case on an expedited basis and to issue an opinion prior to the November Presidential election. The outcome of these legal challenges may not actually be determined until after the fall elections.

Because JSPAN is concerned that the new law will impede the ability of Pennsylvania votes to cast their ballots in November and thereafter, JSPAN is a member of the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition. Organized under the leadership of the Committee of Seventy, the Coalition is comprised of over 100 organizations.

The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is engaged in a non-partisan campaign to alert voters about the photo IDs they need to bring to the polls and to help them get a photo ID or other acceptable forms of identification for voting if they don't have one. Volunteers are needed to help educate voters about the new requirements and for door-to-door canvassing, staffing phone banks, data entry and packet assembly at the new statewide Coalition Operations Center located at 310 W. Chelten Ave. in Germantown. To volunteer your time, contact the Operations Center at 215-848-1283, or contact Luke McKinstry at or 215-557-3600, ext. 112. More information about the new requirements, volunteer opportunities and related information about the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is available at

What follows is a sampling of articles reporting in-depth on the Commonwealth Court's opinion and the arguments on appeal as well as an independent analysis of these developments with reference to additional articles, opinions and research on the issues at stake. -Ed.

Voter ID Law Withstands Constitutional Attack
The Legal Intelligencer
By Amaris Elliott-Engel
August 16, 2012

Pennsylvania's voter identification law was upheld at the preliminary injunction stage as a Commonwealth Court judge said the law is constitutionally valid on its face and that it is valid under a standard of review that is more deferential to state legislators.

Lawyers for the petitioners said they planned to file their appeal as of right with the state Supreme Court today and that they would ask the high court to hear the case on an expedited basis.

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Why Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law Is Unconstitutional
The Atlantic
By Garrett Epps
August 16, 2012

In upholding a law that could disenfranchise 9 percent of the state's population, Judge Simpson breaks new ground in belittling a fundamental American right. In time, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board may come to rank with Bush v. Gore as among the worst recent decisions by the Supreme Court. That case has made possible the ongoing campaign to gut the right to vote.

Crawford is directly responsible for Wednesday's decision by Pennsylvania state judge Robert Simpson to allow that state's strict voter ID law to take effect. That law is all but certain to cause chaos at some polling places this fall. It may also, according to some credible estimates, disfranchise as many as 9 percent of the state's eligible voters. There's little secret about the purpose of the bill. As the state's Republican House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, told a partisan audience in June, it "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."

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Pennsylvania Groups Appeal Judge's Ruling in Voter ID Case
By Edith Honan
Aug 18, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A coalition of civil rights groups has asked Pennsylvania's highest court to review a voter identification law that it says will disenfranchise over 1 million voters ahead of the U.S. presidential election in the battleground state. A state judge this week rejected their challenge to the law, which requires voters to present photo identification such as a driver's license in order to cast a ballot.

Republican lawmakers say it will help prevent voter fraud. Critics charge that it is a ploy to keep mainly Democratic voters from casting ballots.

[read more]


The Voter Fraud Fraud
The Jewish Daily Forward
Posted August 17, 2012
Printed Issue of August 24, 2012

Officials of the state of Pennsylvania can offer no evidence of anyone fraudulently voting in person for more than a decade, or planning to do so in November. None. But that didn't stop Republican lawmakers and the Republican governor in this all-important swing state from enacting an outrageous new law requiring that anyone seeking to cast a ballot produce an official photo identification. A Commonwealth Court judge just upheld the law, even though it could disenfranchise as many as 759,000 people, about 9% of the state's registered voters.

The United States has a long history of voting rights being granted and then taken away, but the scope and unscrupulousness of this year's efforts in Pennsylvania and eight other states is breathtaking.

An excellent analysis by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, examined more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years and found that in-person voter impersonation was "virtually nonexistent." As in: only 10 cases, about one for every 15 million prospective voters.

[read more]


JSPAN Hires New Administrator - Welcome Shelley Rappaport
JSPAN is pleased to announce that it has hired a new Administrator. Shelley Rappaport brings to the position years of experience in service to the Jewish community in and around the Philadelphia area. She previously has held positions as director of a multi-county kehillah, board member with Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, manager of a grant allocation program and regional director for Chester and Delaware Counties for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Shelley will be working from August 15 to December 15. Her new office is located within the Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel law firm. She can be reached through the Astor Weiss switchboard at 215- 790-0100 or on her cell phone at 610-348-4857. Please welcome Shelley to the JSPAN family.


Uphill Fight Seen for Hazleton Immigration Ordinance Challengers
Legal challenges to the City of Hazelton's immigration ordinance have an even greater uphill battle in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions on immigration-related state laws. Now back in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on remand from the high court, oral arguments were recently held in Lozano v. City of Hazelton. JSPAN participated as an amicus curiae in the Lozano challenge when it was initially before the Third Circuit. -Ed.

The Legal Intelligencer
By Saranac Hale Spencer
August 16, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court may well have breathed new life into the city of Hazleton's ordinance barring employers and landlords from hiring or renting to illegal immigrants, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit implied in questioning at a hearing Wednesday.

In 2006, the city was the first to pass a law of that kind, but it was promptly enjoined from taking effect by U.S. District Judge James Munley of the Middle District of Pennsylvania — a ruling that was upheld by the Third Circuit in 2010. However, in light of the Supreme Court's opinions from its most recent term and the previous term regarding immigration-related state laws, the Third Circuit heard arguments on Hazleton's ordinance on remand from the high court.

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A Woman's Prerogative at the Ballot Box
The Jewish Exponent
By Bryan Schwartzman
August 08, 2012

Kim Decker and her teenage son, Bennett, waited in a packed auditorium last month at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel for the start of an election program that featured some prominent Jewish supporters of the president, an audience with some hecklers and plenty of rhetorical fireworks.

But mother and son managed to discuss President Barack Obama's record civilly, even if they didn't completely agree.

Bennett, who will soon be a freshman at Cheltenham High School, gives Obama high marks on Israel while his 44-year-old mother says the president hasn't been quite as pro-Israel as she had hoped.

As a Jewish woman, Decker is a member of two highly courted groups in this presidential campaign.

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As Woody Turns 100, We Protest Too Little
The New York Times
By Lawrence Downes
August 19, 2012

In October the Kennedy Center will throw a centennial party for Woody Guthrie, a star-studded concert with tickets topping out at $175. It will be America's ultimate tribute to a beloved troubadour. "Through his unique music, words and style," the Kennedy Center says, "Guthrie was able to bring attention and understanding to the critical issues of his day."

Poor Woody. The life and music of America's great hobo prophet, its Dust Bowl balladeer, boiled down to this: He brought attention to the critical issues of his day. Maybe that's what happens to dissidents who are dead long enough. They are reborn for folk tales and children's books and PBS pledge drives. They become safe enough for the Postal Service. "For a man who fought all his life against being respectable, this comes as a stunning defeat," Arlo Guthrie said in 1998, when his father was put on a 32-cent stamp.

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Madonna Condemns Pussy Riot Verdict
More on the topic of performers speaking out to protest injustice . . . as Madonna exercises her First Amendment rights in support of an all-woman band in Russia. - Ed.


Madonna may be saddled with her own share of Russian troubles right now, facing a $10.5 million lawsuit brought by a group of activists offended by the "moral damage" she caused at her St. Petersburg concert by challenging the city's gay pride ban. Yet the pop star is continuing to lend her support to jailed Russian punk trio Pussy Riot. On Saturday, she released a statement condemning Friday's conviction of the group on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

"I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40 second performance extolling their political opinions," Madonna said in a statement on her website. "Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane. I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment. I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They've spent enough time in jail. I call on ALL of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free."

[read more]


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