The Law Center, along with the National watchdog group Voter Action, attorney Michael Daly of the firm Drinker Biddle and Reath, and private attorney Marian Schneider are representing 26 Pennsylvania voters who filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Secretary of State in August of 2006 and alleged that their votes were at risk of being lost or altered because of operational or security failures of the Pennsylvania-certified systems, and that such failures have in fact occurred on DREs in elections in Pennsylvania and in other states.
According to state law, whenever a question related to a Home Rule Charter appears on a ballot, the President Judge must appoint temporary election overseers to serve in the place of the City Commissioners. This law has not been followed in Philadelphia for at least 15 years.
In 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law requiring everyone to present certain types of photo ID before voting – a requirement that could have disenfranchised many people who cannot obtain ID and created additional burdens that fall heavily on urban, low-income, minority, elderly, and disabled voters.
Though the language of the Pennsylvania Constitution is clear about how legislative maps should be drawn –municipalities shall not be split unless “absolutely necessary” – the politicians in charge of the process have long ignored its direction, instead drawing maps designed to help incumbent legislators keep their seats.
In predominately white Chester County, Pa., Lower Oxford East Township contains the largest concentration of African-American voters, largely because of Lincoln University, one of the oldest historically African-American universities in the country. The township made national news following the 2008 presidential election, when some voters were forced to wait literally all day in pouring rain in order to vote. Many voters had to leave without casting their votes, disenfranchised by inadequate polling facilities.
In the spring of 2008, large numbers of citizens lost their right to vote in Pennsylvania primary elections when a number of electronic voting machines failed. Election administrators did not allow the safeguard of emergency paper ballots, and many voters, unable to wait in hours-long lines, left their polling places without casting a ballot.
The Law Center litigated a 1995 federal lawsuit compelling Pennsylvania to comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to make it easier for citizens to vote. This case resulted in Pennsylvania enacting a court-ordered plan that registered and updated registrations for Pennsylvania residents at various government locations, driver’s license centers, transportation agencies, and other state-funded programs.