Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Anything goes' on Election Day in PA

This Letter to the Editor, originally published in The Mercury, is from state Rep. Curt Schroder of Chester County. Schroder says a recent policy change pushed by Gov. Ed Rendell, an Obama supporter, will create chaos at polling sites all over Pennsylvania.

State law prohibits "passive electioneering," which previously prevented voters from wearing clothing that depicted political candidates.

Now, polling site officials will be forced to take on the role of fashion police to determine appropriate attire before going into the voting booth.
'Anything goes' on Election Day

Traditionally, when you go to the polls to cast your votes on Election Day, you are bombarded by representatives of the various campaigns, doing last minute electioneering before you head into the polls to exercise one of your most sacred Constitutional rights.

Once inside, you were free of influence and able to cast your votes without interference. There were no advertisements, no campaign buttons, T-shirts or other apparel promoting one candidate over another. The atmosphere was uncluttered and you were there for one reason — to vote.

This year, however, the situation looks a lot different. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, who oversees the state's election process, has bowed to pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the League of Women Voters who have threatened to sue the state in an effort to bring electioneering into the voting booth!

In a recent memo, Cortes gave the green light to "passive electioneering" at Pennsylvania polling places. Cortes said voters wearing campaign buttons and apparel should be permitted to vote, and cannot be made to remove political advertising. However, Cortes said it will be the responsibility of precinct election officials to make "judgment calls" about the appropriateness of the conduct of these individuals inside the polling place. I believe the subjective nature of these judgment calls makes his bad decision even worse and actually invites litigation.

According to the Pennsylvania Election Code, electioneering is not permitted inside polling places. The law makes no provision for "passive electioneering." This is a term created out of whole cloth by the Secretary.

In recent years, concerns about the integrity of the election process and reports of voting irregularities have cast a dark cloud over Election Day. This year, charges of fraudulent voter registration activity could do the same. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is under investigation by the FBI for allegations of voter registration fraud in a number of states.

Cortes' decision continues a trend of "anything goes" deregulation of our registration and voting process. Partisan organizations will, at some point, attempt to push the envelope on behalf of their candidate. The resulting chaos could make Wall Street's upheaval seem tame by comparison.

Rep. Curt Schroder
R-155th District
Chester County, PA

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