State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: jamel rowe

Attempts to shine light on the dark side of politics

by Jamel Rowe

Corruption—the dark side of politics— is a problem that legislatures and the general public have been battling since the creation of the United States government. Recently, Pennsylvania made the eradication of corruption in judicial elections its primary goal by introducing House Bill 1815 and House Bill 1816 to the General Assembly.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for the appellate and trial court must run in partisan elections and, consequently, must affiliate themselves with a particular party. Then they must be elected by popular vote. Proponents of judicial elections support the system because they believe it promotes accountability. They argue that judges, who routinely make policy decisions, are in essence legislators.  As a result, judges should be held accountable to the public just like legislators; if they fail to live up to their campaign promises, the public should have the ability to oust them from office. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill: The Embodiment of Discrimination or Weapon Against Voter Fraud?

by Jamel Rowe

Imagine that after months of living off of your meager savings, you can longer pay your rent and are subsequently evicted from your home. You, like an estimated 15,096 Pennsylvanians, have no permanent home. Regrettably, your homelessness could hinder your ability to vote.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R – Butler County) introduced House Bill 934 on March 4, 2011. It passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a 108-88 vote and is currently before the Senate.  As it stands, the current election laws require voters to show identification the first time they vote at a new polling location. If approved, the bill will require voters to show valid photo identification every time they vote, even though they may have voted at that particular polling location in the past.

The primary justification for this “common-sense safeguard” is to prevent voter fraud. In an interview with Comcast Newsmakers, Rep. Metcalfe stated that voter fraud is still a relevant concern as demonstrated by the 2009 investigation of ACORN employees in Pittsburgh for fraud. He also discussed how thousands of fraudulent voter registrations were filed in Philadelphia in 2005 and how 1500 of those registrations were turned over to the District Attorney for further investigation. Continue reading

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