Voter fraud has been a hot topic in the state since Pennsylvania became the ninth in the nation to pass a Voter ID law with a stringent photo requirement.
The question everyone asks is – is it a real problem, or a Republican myth?
After House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) inadvertently suggested that the Voter ID law was designed not to combat voter fraud, but to benefit the GOP politically, the debate became even more intense.
The latest comes from Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt, whose report suggests that voter fraud may be a bigger issue than previously thought.
He said he’s found “hundreds of cases of voting irregularities that warrant further investigation,” including instances of non-registered voters casting ballots non-citizens voting, voters casting multiple ballots and voter impersonation.
Schmidt told The Public Record he found seven types of voter irregularities, including voting by non-registered individuals, voters who cast their ballot in the wrong party’s primary, more votes than voters, individuals voting more than once, voter impersonation and voting by non-U.S. citizens.
So what risk do these types of voting fraud pose for Philadelphia?
“Voting irregularities present a risk to the integrity of elections in Philadelphia County. Our core mission, to run honest elections, is undermined by illegal voting practices that alter election results and have the potential to change the outcome of close elections,” Schmidt said to the Public Record.
However, Schmidt made sure to note in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News’ blog, Philly Clout, that the report was only but a “snapshot” of voting problems and clarified that that his report was not related to the passage of Voter ID law.
Schmidt, the sole Republican member of the three-person body, said said his office worked independently on the report and did not involve the other two Dem commissioners.
Democratic Commissioner Chair Stephanie Singer told Philly Clout said the report had only limited examples and years-old data.
“I don’t know why he has put his name on a report like this, which seems like a stunt to manipulate the press,” she said.
To combat the voting fraud he found, Schmidt suggested running an investigation of voting irregularities after each election, complete with a report for the public, and working with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to develop ways to identify voter registrations of non-citizens.
State Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason issued a statement on the report Wednesday, calling its findings “beyond alarming.”
“This conversation isn’t about disenfranchising Democrats or Republicans; it’s about protecting everyone’s fundamental right to vote, and the fact that we now know just how rampant voter fraud could potentially be, all political parties should come together to protect the sanctity of our process,” he said.
“The Commissioner’s report should silence all those partisans and pundits who have been saying that there are no cases of voter fraud. I hope all of them would read the report and join all those in favor of fair elections.”