"Pennsylvania Utility Company Admits Newsletter Contains Wrong Voter ID Information, Keeps Sending It Anyway"
Pennsylvania’s biggest utility company, PECO, has admitted to sending incorrect voter ID information to 1.3 million customers in 7 Pennsylvania counties. Despite the recent suspension of the state’s strict voter ID law, PECO’s newsletter warned voters that they must present a valid photo ID in order to vote on Election Day. When customers complained about the inaccurate mailing, a PECO spokesperson explained the mailing was approved a week before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent the law back to the Commonwealth Court to reconsider the risk of disenfranchisement for low-income, minority, and elderly voters. “We were trying to do a service for our customers in Pennsylvania, to get the word out. Because of the press time of this particular publication, unfortunately the information in there is not entirely correct,” PECO rep Ben Armstrong told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Though the mailing may have been a simple technical mistake, PECO plans to keep distributing its newsletter unchanged through October 28:
Armstrong said Peco intended to continue distribution of the faulty newsletter through its October billing cycle, running through Oct. 28. It’s not possible for its printer to schedule a corrected run, he said, and the newsletter contains information on other programs “that needs to get” to customers.
The other items this month include information on the utility’s home energy audits, how to make donations to its Matching Energy Assistance Fund, Fire Safety Month, and a cutout for customers to get discounts at the Please Touch Museum.
Peco’s next billing cycle begins Oct. 29, a week before the election, but the company has no plans to deal with voter ID in its next newsletter, Armstrong said.
One reason PECO has been slow to correct the error may have to do with the energy company’s CEO, Denis O’Brien. O’Brien has contributed to the campaigns of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-PA), who was “a key force in enacting the law,” and House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA), who quickly became notorious after boasting that the ID law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” PECO’s President, Craig Adams, also donated to Pileggi’s campaign this year.
PECO isn’t the only source disseminating confusing information to Pennsylvanian voters. For a week after the court order suspended the ID requirement, at least 5 counties stated on their websites that voters must show an eligible ID to vote. A billboard targeting Spanish speakers as well as television ads continued to promote the ID requirement for at least a week after the law was invalidated.