Charges, without evidence, '112% turnout' in some precincts...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2012, 7:36pm PT  

Fresh off of telling women they should just "close your eyes" when they are forced by the state to have the government come between them and their doctor for a mandated ultrasound before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy, Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is now just making stuff up concerning "voter fraud" in his state.

Comments highlighted by Steve Benen at Maddow Blog today suggest the Governor is willing to say just about anything to justify the disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions just passed and signed into law by Republicans in the Keystone State...

Asked to explain the need for such a measure, Corbett offered a curious explanation (thanks to reader K.M. for the tip):

When some of the precincts come in with a 112 percent reporting you have to scratch your head and say how does that happen?" questioned Governor Corbett.

At a certain level, that may seem persuasive. If there were precincts in the Keystone State that had 112% participation, then Republicans would have a pretty strong case for new measures intended to crack down on abuses.

But here's the trouble: there are no examples of Pennsylvania precincts, at [any] time or in [any] election, coming in with 112% participation. Corbett appears to have simply made this up.

We thought we'd double check on that with Marybeth Kuznick, founder of VotePA, the non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization which has been fighting to improve the state's electoral system --- and help stop election fraud --- for years now.

She concurs that Corbett's statement is, as she described it to us, simply "ludicrous"...

When we asked her where the Governor might have come up with the evidence to make such a claim, she jogged her memory to come up with something.

"The only possibility where that might have come from, I recall in the back of my mind, there were incidents when there were votes in the electronic voting machines already on the morning of elections, back when we used to use the [e-voting systems made] by Danaher."

"It wasn't intentional fraud," she explained, "it was when they went in to open the polls in the morning, did the 'zero tests' and found there were like 40 votes still on the machine from a previous election or something. And so those were cleared out."

"That has happened on other machines as well, not just Danaher's, such as the ES&S iVotronics many counties use now."

She says that "definitely happened in Venango County in 2011. That was one of the things that caused so much alarm there last year."

Readers of The BRAD BLOG will recall our detailed investigative series of reports on what happened in Venango County last year when a bi-partisan election board, led by Republicans in a very Republican area of western PA, bucked the county's party establishment (and the legal threats from the voting machine company ES&S) to insist on an independent forensic audit of the county's e-voting system after several recent elections had resulted in reported vote-flipping, zero votes for some candidates, and other serious concerns on the touch-screen systems.

The results of the audit found, among other problems, that the system was completely insecure and had, in fact, been "remotely accessed" on "multiple occasions", including just days before the 2010 general election.

"Other than situations like that," says Kuznik, "I know of no certified results that ever said there was a 112% turnout. That's ludicrous."

"Back in the 40's, or something, when the party machines were much more entrenched than they are now, there might have been such incidents, but I don't know why they'd pass a law now to do something about what happened in the 1940s," she added.

"If they would just have half as much urgency --- a 50th of the urgency --- about these unverifiable DREs (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen, voting machines), with known problems, that can really the effect the outcome of an election, we'd be getting something done here."

Kuznik explained that "the Secretary of the Commonwealth confirmed they can't prove a single instance of voter impersonation fraud [the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by a polling place Photo ID restriction], but they have many instances of these machines failing."

Benen added a few additional comments of note in his article: "Indeed, Corbett was Pennsylvania's state Attorney General, and before that, a U.S. Attorney. If he had found evidence of such obvious fraud, he had opportunities to investigate and prosecute. That never happened, because the fraud never took place."

"It'd be less frustrating," he writes, "if proponents of voter-suppression tactics were more forthright about their motivations. Instead of pretending he's combating a problem that doesn't exist, Corbett and his allies should simply admit what is plainly true: GOP officials are eager to block traditionally-Democratic constituencies from voting, and requiring voter IDs disproportionately affects the poor, the elderly, and minorities."

"The facts are obvious," Benen concludes with one final shot at the Big Government-loving Republican Governor. "You just have to open your eyes."

Unless a successful legal challenge is made against the new GOP voting restriction in the important swing state of Pennsylvania, legally registered voters will be required to show a Photo ID at the polling place --- or they will not be allowed to cast a normal ballot --- for the very first time in the 2012 Presidential Election this November.

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