Coffee Break Ballot, July 24: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We promise that we’ve been reading about states other than Pennsylvania.

But the state admits in pre-trial documents that no examples of in-person voter impersonation fraud exist – the fraud that photo ID laws would prevent – and that it will not argue that point in the ACLU trial against Act 18. We admit: we read the entire brief.

As this is posted, a large protest is taking place on the Capitol steps in Harrisburg, Pa. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is investigating the photo voter ID law independently of the suit the ACLU.

Many voting rights watchers have been waiting for a turning point in the debate over the efficacy, effect and educational aspects of photo ID laws. Few observers, however, could have expected that Pennsylvania – which does not fall under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act – would push the debate as much as it did today.

What We’ve Been Reading

Ahead of Voter ID Trial, Pennsylvania Admits There’s No In-Person Voter Fraud,” (Ryan J. Reilly, 07/24, Talking Points Memo)

U.S. investigation of Pa.’s new voter ID law,” (Bob Warner and Angela Coloumbis, 07/24, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Goes to Court,” (Ari Berman, 07/24, The Nation)

DOJ letter on voter ID,” (Tim McNulty, 07/24, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Wisconsin Republican Senator Believes Voter ID Will Help Romney ‘In A Close Race,’” (Scott Keyes, 07/24, ThinkProgress)

Pennsylvania admits it: no voter fraud problem,” (Jamelle Bouie, 07/24, Washington Post)

Twitter Trends

There’s been huge movement in the social media discussion of voting rights, but not in ways expected.

The biggest mover in our search process is voter fraud, an election or primary centered term that coalesces around ballot mischief allegations. An almost six-fold increase in mentions of voter fraud stems from Pennsylvania’s no-fraud admission.

As news sources – Talking Points Memo, The Washington Post, MSNBC – pick up the story, users have been tweeting and retweeting the legal brief and related stories. The Harrisburg rally also took a news tweet turn when the voter fraud pretrial brief became public, as state politicians and civil rights leaders responded to the news.

In short, it’s a Keystone State kind of day.

Be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote for more updates and links throughout the day.