October 31, 2008

ACORN Wins GOP Lawsuit; Voting Rights Protected in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Two lawsuits, one attempting to restrict voters' attire and one in which the GOP attempted to force ACORN to turn over its list of Pennsylvania registered voters, were defeated in state court Oct. 30.

In the suit against ACORN, state GOP officials had filed a preliminary injunction against the community group, attempting to get the state to force ACORN to turn over its list of voters it has registered and seeking to order the group to pay for public service announcements reminding first-time voters that they must bring identification to the polls.

"We are pleased the court saw through the Plaintiffs' blatant attempt at voter suppression and fear mongering to deny the Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction," said Pennsylvania ACORN Board Member Carol Hemingway. "The simple fact remains: the existence of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania is a myth."

Judge Robert Simpson Jr. found that the plaintiffs could not prove their allegations that ACORN was engaging in voter registration fraud and that the state's election system lacked the safeguards to stop it, the Associated Press reported.

Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortes, who was named as a defendant in the case against ACORN, called the lawsuit's allegations against the state "a frivolous attempt to undermine voter confidence."

In the other case, Simpson ruled that counties could not restrict voters' attire at the polls. Due to confusion over what constitutes the "electioneering" that is prohibited at the polls, the State Department had advised counties in a September memo that they should allow voters to cast ballots while wearing partisan attire such as campaign T-shirts or buttons. Two Pittsburgh-area elections officials had argued against the memo. Out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania, 38 had said they would allow campaign-related attire.

"A court cannot mandate common sense or good taste," Simpson concluded.