Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell plans to veto the state's Voter Protection Act because it won't benefit him politically.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell stopped by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to announce he will veto the Voter Protection Act of 2006. That's an odd thing for a Democrat to do, especially when Democrats complain so much about voter fraud.
Or is it that Democrats gripe about voter fraud only when they lose elections to Republicans?
The essence of the voter-fraud bill (also known as House Bill 1318) is to ensure that every vote counts and counts only once. That should be a no-brainer for anyone who believes in the integrity of the election process.
Rendell said there is no widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania, especially in his hometown of Philadelphia. He called House Bill 1318 a solution in search of a problem, a measure designed to fix a "harm that doesn't exist."
Of course, Rendell says a lot of things that deviate from reality. Just last week, Rendell defended his record on property tax relief for Pennsylvania homeowners despite the fact that property taxes have risen dramatically each year Rendell has been governor.
Rendell says requiring voters to show ID is unconstitutional. Rendell is a lawyer, but he's not on the short list of U.S. Supreme Court candidates, so maybe we shouldn't take his legal advice at face value. Rendell conveniently ignores the fact that 24 states already require voters to prove who they are before they can vote.
House Bill 1318 would also prohibit the placement of voting machines in private homes and businesses. Yes friends, many Philadelphia residents go into people's homes or shops (some owned by politicians and their friends) to cast votes. (I'm not sure if the candidate's wife and kids get to count the votes in their home to save election officials time.)
And this is the voter integrity that Rendell is defending? Who in their right mind would trust a politician to ensure a fair election?
Rendell, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was one of many Democrats who protested about voter fraud after Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election and John Kerry lost the 2004 election. Given a golden opportunity to prevent voter fraud in his home state, what does Rendell do? He wants nothing to do with it.
Rendell won the 2002 governor's race with overwhelming numbers in Philadelphia, the epicenter of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Rendell lost to Republican Mike Fisher in about two-thirds of Pennsylvania's counties, but he locked up 70 percent of the vote in Philadelphia.
With GOP challenger Lynn Swann expected to sweep western Pennsylvania, Rendell needs even more votes out of Philadelphia to have any chance of winning re-election in 2006. So why would Rendell want to make it harder to run up big numbers in his hometown?
With apologies to M Night Shyamalan, you don't need a "Sixth Sense" to see dead people in Pennsylvania. Just visit Philadelphia on Election Day. The dead vote early and often in Philadelphia precincts. And, they donít have to show any form of ID.
Discounting the constitutional question, Rendell's other objections to the voter fraud bill are lame.
Rendell said many Pennsylvania residents don't drive so they don't have a driver's license to show at the polls. It appears Rendell didn't bother to read the bill before announcing he will veto it. Under the Voter Protection Act, acceptable forms of identification includes both photo and non-photo ID, including utility bills, copies of a paycheck or even a voter registration card.
Rendell went to say that the homeless donít have paychecks or utility bills to show. So this is what ensuring the fairness of elections comes down to? How many homeless people Rendell can pick up off the streets of Philadelphia and take to the polls?
Has anyone done a survey on voter turnout by the homeless? How do the homeless know where to vote? If they don't have a permanent address, where would their voting precinct be located?
Rendell is grasping at straws. He doesn't want fair elections in Pennsylvania because an election ó without the usual Philadelphia shenanigans ó could cost Rendell re-election.
It's unlikely that the Legislature can override a Rendell veto unless a majority of Democrats join Republicans for a two-thirds majority. And that wonít happen in an election year.
In addition to the outrageous pay raise Rendell sought for himself and the Legislature last July, the failure to provide tax relief, the unwilliness to deal with the health insurance crisis for working Pennsylvanian, deteriorating roads and bridges, add the unwillingness to ensure fair elections in Pennsylvania as another reason Rendell does not deserve re-election.
Tony Phyrillas is a political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas