Voter ID: Applewhite v. Commonwealth


Supplemental Injunction Requested to Stop Commonwealth from Misleading Voters about ID Requirements

On October 19th, the Law Center, along with our partners at the Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and Arnold & Porter, filed a petition asking the court to order the Commonwealth to stop disseminating information that falsely states or suggests that voters will be required to show ID to vote on November 6th.

In addition, we have asked the court to order the Commonwealth to take the necessary corrective measures to ensure that all voters are aware that, despite what they may have previously heard, they will not be required to show ID on Election Day.

Despite the court’s October 2nd partial preliminary injunction of the law, the Commonwealth continues to disseminate false information about the ID requirement. The week of October 8th, a significant number of senior citizens received a mailing from PACE/PACENET which falsely stated that voters will be required to show ID on November 6th and which made no mention of the availability of the Department of State ID card. In addition, plaintiffs’ attorneys have received reports that some PennDOT locations are still displaying posters that say that ID is required, and that some TV and radio ads still contain incorrect information.

In addition, the Commonwealth’s efforts to proactively inform voters about the change in the ID requirement have been virtually non-existent. Before the October 2nd injunction was issued, Commonwealth officials released nearly a dozen press releases, did two mass mailings, and held many press conferences and public appearances focused on telling voters that they would need an ID on Election Day. In contrast, since the injunction, there have been no mailings informing voters of the change, no public commentaries by Commonwealth officials, and only one press release – which hid its only reference to the fact that voters will now not be required to present ID in its fourth paragraph. While TV, print and bus ads have been modified, the revisions are too subtle or unclear to be effective. For example, billboards and bus ads still tell voters they must “Show It” (referring to ID) but now include, in much smaller font, the ambiguous phrase “if you have it.” TV ads also still tell voters to “show it,” with only a minor change in the voiceover explaining that ID is not required. Those who are hard of hearing or are simply not paying close attention will easily miss this subtle change.

We have requested that the court order the Commonwealth to send corrective notices to anyone who has received a mailing with false information since October 2nd; cease any advertisements or mailings that state or suggest that ID is required; re-word Robo-calls scheduled for the end of October; issue a press release; and hold a press conference before the election – all clearly articulating that voters will still be able to vote without ID on November 6th.