You do not need identification to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6. We repeat: You do not need identification to vote. The Pennsylvania Voter ID bill was first brought to our attention last spring. Over the next year, it would be amended several times, pass the Senate, pass the House and get signed by Gov. Corbett in a timely manner (see: the same day it was passed.) But that didn’t stop opponents like the American Civil Liberties Union from filing a lawsuit over the legality of the law. The drama continued as the law was upheld by the Commonwealth Court, then appealed at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That judicial body then sent it back to the Commonwealth Court with new restrictions. Then, it was stayed by the same judge who ruled it constitutional in the first place. It’s still on the books and will be looked at again in 2013. The state has kept on with its Voter ID advertising campaign—especially in Latino neighborhoods—but they’re not to be listened to. So, what’s that all mean? You do not need identification to vote next week.
Something strange happened on the way to the November 2012 election. The little people scored big victories and you will have the choice between four—four!— candidates for president this year.
The first third-party stud, Dr. Jill Stein, is running on the Green Party ticket alongside her vice-presidential candidate, Philly’s own Cheri Honkala. While the Green ticket has been challenged and often kicked off the ballot in Pennsylvania in recent years (former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is still challenging a 2004 decision that made him flee the ballot) Stein and Honkala were not challenged by the Democrats at all. And the women have made this election season count. Both have been arrested while protesting for their electoral rights, and Stein is now suing the Commission on Presidential Debates for not allowing her to join Obama and Romney in the foreign-policy debate earlier this month.
The other candidate on the ballot: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Johnson began running for president as a Republican to the right of Ron Paul on financial issues and to the left of Dennis Kucinich on social issues. Like Stein, Johnson is in favor of gay marriage and legalizing marijuana. How they’ll deal with our economic crisis is, of course, a huge point of contention between the two— which they discussed during a debate hosted by Larry King on Al Jazeera last week. You can still watch it on YouTube if the mainstream candidates have got you down.
How to Find Your Polling Place
Want to vote, but just don’t know where? Check out: Guide.Seventy.org—another handy gadget from the Committee of Seventy. While at that site, type in your home address. The address of your polling place will pop up on a Google map. It’s that simple.
See Something? Say Something.
Fox News may be attempting to scare its audience with (… spins wheel …) talk of “poll watchers from the United Nations” this Election Day, but as it happens, shady practices go on at polls every year—and if it happens, and there are no U.N. Big Brothers around to sacrifice you to Kofi Annan, you should know what to do.
First off, the Committee of Seventy and affiliated groups have a hotline. If you see something, call it: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Report what’s going on and they’ll try to do something about it.
Secondly, voting-rights activist Faye Anderson has set up a mobile web application that allows users to text problems at the polling place—see something, Tweet it. The app is called Yo! Philly Votes and can be found at Phillyvotes.info.
And if that doesn’t work for you, find a police officer.
As usual, there will be some ballot questions awaiting you as you walk in the booth this year. And, as usual, you will have no idea what they mean. Here’s a short guide to figure that one out, courtesy (mostly) of the Committee of Seventy.
“Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the establishment of an independent rate-making body for fixing and regulating water and sewer rates and charges and to prescribe open and transparent processes and procedures for fixing and regulating said rates and charges?”
Uh, so what’s that mean?
If you answer “yes” to this question, you’re permitting City Council to create an independent body to set water and sewer rates, and to regulate how those rates are imposed. The Water Department currently sets rates and charges for water and sewer services, and City Council wants in. The language of the question does make it sound like the Water Department maybe isn’t being so transparent. So who do you think is better at regulating our water: the Water Department or City Council?
Women. There are a lot of us! And we vote! In large numbers! This election season, some people, perhaps forgetting that we have voting rights (since 1920, thank you very much), have been talking about us like, well, we don’t exist. Thing is, we’ve got a lot to say. Opinions, if you will. Welcome to our binder full of women.
Letters to the Editor