September 15, 2012

Scaife, The Trib, Judicial Watch And PA Voter Suppression

I'll let Josh Israel of Think Progress frame it this time:
Since launching its 2012 Election Integrity Project in February, the right-wing Judicial Watch has been a leading player in the push for more voting restrictions. The group — best known for its Clinton-era lawsuits — has demanded more voting roll purges like Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) failed efforts in Florida. But a ThinkProgress examination of tax filings reveals that the group has received millions of dollars from foundations tied to conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife since the start of 2001.
This we've known for a while.  The only thing missing from Israel's otherwise solid reporting is the well-known fact that Scaife owns the Tribune-Review (Josh only goes so far as to call him a "media baron.") and that the Tribune-Review publishes things like this:
As it wrangles over a controversial voter identification law set to take effect in November, Pennsylvania might be the next target of a foundation that sued two states to clean their voter rolls.

Allegheny County in particular concerns the Washington-based Judicial Watch, which this summer sued Indiana and Ohio. It believes a high voter registration rate in the county — nearly 90 percent in 2010 — could point to outdated and corruption-prone voter lists, foundation President Tom Fitton said Wednesday. National voter registration averages are closer to 70 percent.
With no mention of the millions Scaife's funneled to Judicial Watch.  But in any event, did you see what they did?  They found another reason to support the Voter ID law!  The possibility of "outdated and corruption-prone voter lists"!

Only buried a few paragraphs down do we get to learn why the voter rolls in Allegheny County are higher than the national average:
Scholars suggested several factors could explain the unusually robust voter registration counts in Allegheny County. The number in Philadelphia is similarly high — 85.8 percent as of 2010, according to Judicial Watch.

“Urban areas tend to have higher mobility” as people move from city to city, among local neighborhoods or even within apartment complexes, said Justin Levitt, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He said that can lead to multiple registrations, temporarily, under the same name.
In any event, the County can't remove those names from the rolls.  How do we know this?  It says so in the article:
As many as 30 percent of the state’s more than 8 million registered voters might be classified as inactive, but state and federal rules can keep elections officials from purging some inactive registrations for as long as nine years, local and state officials said.

Shannon Royer, deputy secretary of the commonwealth, said counties cannot clean the rolls simply “at their discretion.” [emphasis added.]
And yet, the piece in the Scaife-owned Tribune-Review is framed in such a way as to allow the Scaife-funded Judicial Watch to say that Allegheny County's to blame for it's inaccurate (i.e. "inaccurate and corruption prone") voter rolls and that the solution to that "problem" is the Voter ID law currently in front of the state Supreme Court.

See how that works?

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

There is another dimension to this - apparently the Tea Party (or affiliated groups) have pledged to somehow challenge voters before they vote, because they believe these voters are ineligible. Groups like Judicial Watch are providing the intellectual backstop for these activities.

Not only will the voter ID law deliver Pennsylvania to Mitt Romney, but Democrats in districts with nearly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans will defeat Democratic candidates (whether incumbents or challengers), tilting the state further red. How long until the State passes a law disenfranchising voters who get (traditional) welfare (I say traditional welfare since a GOP run Pennsylvania would look to transfer money from the poor to fracking industries and rich Pennsylvanians with school age kids).