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Office of the Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Governor's Press Office Room 308, Main Capitol Building , Harrisburg, PA 17120
www.governor.state.pa.us 717-783-1116 (Phone) 717-772-8462 (Fax)
EDWARD G. RENDELL, Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2006
CONTACT: Kate Philips 717-783-1116
Governor Rendell Signs Veto Message
Protecting Fundamental Right to Vote of PA Citizens,
Says Bill Places Unnecessary Burden on Voters
HARRISBURG Governor Edward G. Rendell today formally vetoed House Bill 1318, calling the bill an unnecessary burden that will result in some Pennsylvania residents losing their right to vote.
In taking action to veto the bill, Governor Rendell said, "I am vetoing this bill because I believe it violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also places an unnecessary new burden on electors that will result in some losing their right to vote, and I will do all I can to make sure that actions like this cannot happen on my watch."
"With voter participation in our country dropping to alarming levels, the government should not be taking action that will turn away bona fide voters from our polls," the Governor said.
Governor Rendell said that those who want to decrease voter participation by passing this bill did so under the ruse that voters need to show identification to prevent voter fraud. The Governor added that he is concerned that the legislation would have disenfranchised people living in nursing homes, a displaced family or the state's poorest, who may not have any government-issued identification.
"No one can tell me how these citizens are going to be able to vote under this proposal," the Governor said.
Just a few weeks ago, on President's Day at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Governor Rendell announced his plan to veto the bill, noting that, "The founders of our democracy fought to put the power to govern this nation into the hands of the people, and as a result, they wrote documents to help us preserve a true democracy."
Numerous organizations have written the Governor requesting that he veto the bill. Among those groups are the following:
· AARP Pennsylvania
· Black Political Empowerment Project
· Common Cause
· Comunidad Latina Catolica de la Diocesis de Pittsburgh
· The Hispanic Center of Pittsburgh
· The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
· Just Harvest
· The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
· Mercer County Citizens for Better Government
· Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
· Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
· Philly for Change
· Philadelphia NAACP
· Project H.O.M.E.
· Women's Law Project
Governor Rendell said it is easy to say that those who attempt to vote without identification will be given a provisional ballot, "but far too many of those ballots will not be counted because the very individuals who use them because they lack identification will be unable to attend a challenge of their provisional vote, such as seniors, those who are homebound, or those who are in nursing homes. They will not be able to go to a courthouse to defend their rights and, as a result, their right to vote will be stolen."
The Governor also said the bill does not address major issues that make it difficult for overseas and military voters to cast their ballots. "This bill does not contain any of the elements necessary to enable our men and women who are on active duty deployment within the U.S., for instance, in New Orleans on pre-deployment bases for going overseas to fight, to be able to vote.
"If the Legislature agrees with me that it is urgent that we remove all barriers to voting for our deployed military personnel, they should pass HB 544, which contains all of the changes that my Election Reform Commission identified." That bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Flo Fabrizio last October.
The Governor said these provisions permit computer electronic transmissions for absentee ballot applications; earlier filing deadlines for independent candidates so that ballots can be printed earlier and sent overseas in time for the voter to return the ballot before the deadline; and, clear deadlines for county absentee ballot preparation so that that every appropriately-cast vote can be counted.
Under House Bill 1318, every voter would be required to show some form of identification at every election such as a valid driver's license; a U.S. passport; a student, employee or government ID; a county voter registration card; a firearm permit; a current utility bill or current pay statement; or, a paycheck or government check. For those unable to obtain photo identification, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation would be required to issue non-driver identification free-of-charge.
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The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: www.governor.state.pa.us.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Governor Rendell veto message and letters urging him to veto HB 1318 are available at http://www.governor.state.pa.us/governor/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=445630.
EDITOR'S NOTE 2: VotePA participated in the Protect Ourt Vote Campaign, and we indeed wrote a letter to Governor Rendell to urge him to veto this bill. We applaud his doing this action to protect the rights of Pennsylvania Voters.
That said, VotePA now urges the Governor to take the next steps to protect these rights:
1) Support HB 2000 and SB 977 and call for the passage of these bills to provide VOTER VERIFIED PAPER BALLOTS OR RECORDS on all Pennsylvania Voting Systems, with routine audits of all elections.
2) Use your influence, Governor, to negotiate with the federal Department of Justice and get the HAVA deadline delayed until the Novemeber elections. Counties are scrambling to comply with HAVA by May; many will not succeed and even more will make hasty, unwise decisions about their new voting systems. County officials and pollworkers will be inadequately trained by May. Our motto -- No HAVA in May, we need a delay!