Advocacy groups who won a suspension of Pennsylvania’s voter ID requirement earlier this month have filed a motion seeking to curb Pennsylvania’s dissemination of misinformation about the photo ID law.
The motion alleges that in the wake of the court ruling that photo ID would not be required to vote Nov. 6, the state failed to inform voters of the change and instead delayed correcting information in existing ads and other materials, sent out mailings with the false indication that photo ID was required to vote, and issued new and misleading ads, such as the one below, which features an image of a photo ID with the tiny words “This election day, if you have it,” followed by the huge and capitalized phrase “Show it”:
The motion laments that the “sum total of the Commonwealth’s educational efforts to alert people that the onslaught of pre-injunction news telling voters they need ID to vote is no longer true” is to add the small lettering “if you have it” to the “Show it” campaign that was in effect before the court order.
In contrast, the state’s public information campaign prior to the court ruling was extensive, including the issuance of 11 press releases, several mailers indicating residents would not be able to vote without an ID, and regular public appearances and media commentary by public officials.
Bolstering this confusion is a mailing by the state’s largest utility to 1.3 million customers containing the outdated voter ID information. But while the mailing may have been a mistake, PECO’s spokesperson said the utility plans to continue distribution of the mailer through October 28.
The plaintiffs ask that Pennsylvania take affirmative steps to ensure voters are not deterred from going to the polls, by launching a campaign as aggressive as the one before the court ruling that includes sending corrective notices to those who received misinformation, issuing new press releases, re-wording scheduled robocalls, and immediately pulling any misleading ads.