On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, the impact of the state legislature’s continuing failure to address critical transportation funding issues; a hearing on funding for 9-1-1 call centers; and closing arguments in the Voter-ID trial in Harrisburg.
Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.
Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:
Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law goes on trial Monday (July 15th) and opponents geared up for the case with a rally in Harrisburg on Thursday. Commonwealth Court will decide if the law, which was put on hold pending the trial- is constitutional.
Groups opposed to it say it’s an effort to disenfranchise people who have trouble getting a state issued ID. National NAACP President Ben Jealous says Pennsylvania is a key state in the fight for voting rights. He encouraged people to turn out at the courthouse so the judge, state and nation see how important the trial is to the issue.
But supporters say the law will combat voter fraud by protecting the right of one person one vote.
The upcoming trial will focus on the merits of the law under Pennsylvania’s Constitution and any ruling is likely to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Perhaps the biggest political battle of the 2012 election year wasn’t over a statewide office or seat in Congress; it was Voter ID. Ultimately no Pennsylvania voter was required to show photo identification at the polls last November, but the legal battle is far from over.
A new scheduling order from Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson lays out some key dates for the next phase of this debate.
Will the temporary, partial injunction be extended through this coming May’s primary election? We should find out in March.
Will the plaintiffs be successful in their attempts to have the law permanently enjoined? We should find out in July.
As 2012 draws to a close, Radio PA is looking back at the top 10 Pennsylvania stories of the year as voted on by the news staff and other members of the statewide media. In this installment, we reveal stories 4 through 2, beginning with what was arguably the biggest political fight of the year.
Click the audio players to hear Radio PA’s recap of each story.
#4 – Voter ID 2012Top10-4FINAL
The biggest political battle in Pennsylvania this year was played out in the courts rather than at the ballot box. 2012 may be forever known as the year of the Voter ID. It began when Republican lawmakers passed a bill requiring voters to show a valid form of photo ID when they vote. Governor Tom Corbett, a strong supporter of the measure, signed it into law prior to the primary election last spring. That election would be used as a “soft rollout” for the law with the intention that it would be in full effect in November. Court challenges led to an atmosphere of confusion for voters as the case went all the way to the PA Supreme Court. The justices sent the case back to Commonwealth Court where a final decision was made to allow the state to ask for the IDs, but with no obligation by the voters to show it. The law is set to be in full effect for the off-year elections in 2013, but additional court challenges are already in the works and a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over the Voter ID law. Voter ID comes in as Radio PA’s #4 story of 2012.
#3 – The Penn State Sanctions 2012Top10-3FINAL
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University, many knew that the NCAA was lying in wait. Shortly after Sandusky’s conviction and the release of the Freeh Report which detailed the actions and inactions of PSU administrators, the NCAA dropped the hammer. The sanctions were among the harshest ever handed out, including a $60 million fine; 4-year bowl ban; the loss of scholarships; mandatory oversight; and the vacating of all football wins dating back to 1998. It’s that last sanction that had many scratching their heads due to the fact that the Penn State situation, as horrific as it was, had nothing to do with the on-field conduct of the team. Instead, the vacating of wins was seen as a slap at former Head Coach Joe Paterno, whose name was subsequently erased from the record books. Despite the intense media scrutiny and the defection of runningback Silas Redd and placekicker Anthony Fera, the Penn State football team came together to produce an unexpected 8-4 record under 1st-year Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who was named Big 10 Coach of the Year. The Penn State sanctions, and a group of extraordinary young men who played under them, rank as Radio PA’s #3 story of 2012.
#2 – The Death of Joe Paterno 2012Top10-2FINAL
Like Arlen Specter, Joe Paterno’s passing in January of this year marked the loss of an iconic Pennsylvanian. Despite the turmoil of his final months, Paterno is forever etched into the soul of this Commonwealth. His victories and his failings will always be a part of the Pennsylvania landscape, even after the removal of the statue erected in his honor at Beaver Stadium. In life, Paterno joked that he was fearful of leaving the game, afraid he would suffer the same fate as legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant, who passed away less than a month after retiring. Paterno’s death came just over 2 months after his dismissal as head coach in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The scandal has forever tainted the Paterno years at Penn State and the legacy of a man who donated millions to his school and community during his 6 decades at Penn State University, but thousands still lined up on a cold January day in State College to stroll past the coach’s closed casket and pay final respects. The death of Joseph Vincent Paterno is Radio PA’s #2 Pennsylvania story of 2012.
Coming soon….Radio PA’s #1 story of 2012.
On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul bring you the judge’s ruling in Pennsylvania’s controversial Voter ID case and you’ll hear reaction to the ruling from Governor Tom Corbett. Also, a celebration of Pennsylvania poetry as an event kicks off in the state capitol this week.
Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.
Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/witfaudio/radiopa/Roundtable10-05-12.mp3]
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson has issued a partial preliminary injunction against the new law, which essentially means that voters will be asked to show a valid photo ID on November 6th, but they will not be required to do so.
Governor Tom Corbett says it’ll be a continuation of the soft roll-out that was in place for the primary election this past April. Corbett addressed the Voter ID issue at an unrelated event, telling reporters it doesn’t matter whether he’s disappointed with the ruling or not. However, Corbett reiterated his support for the law. “I think it is incumbent upon people to have photo ID, particularly to identify themselves when they are voting.”
Corbett suggests the Commonwealth is leaning against an appeal of Judge Simpson’s ruling, but notes the ruling is still being reviewed.
While most Republicans’ reaction has been muted, that’s not the case for the bill’s prime sponsor, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler). “It’s a violation of the separation of powers, and it’s a violation of the will of the people,” Metcalfe tells Radio PA.
Metcalfe says the state is fulfilling its responsibility by providing free IDs for voting purposes, but Pennsylvania citizens have the responsibility to obtain one if they wish to exercise the right to vote. “The state can’t fix lazy,” Metcalfe says. “If somebody’s too lazy to do what they have to do, we can’t fix that. We can’t hold every individual by the hand and take them through the process. They have to take on this responsibility.”
Comments like those offend Vick Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “These are people who greatly value the right to vote, have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to get these IDs, and for some politician to get up and call them lazy is just beyond offensive,” Walczak said during a conference call with reporters.
He and other Voter ID opponents who were on that call were hailing the judge’s ruling as a great day for PA voters. “On Election Day no one will be turned away from the polls because they don’t have one of the photo IDs that would have otherwise been required,” says Ben Geffen with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
The state will continue its voter education efforts in hopes that all registered voters will have a valid form of photo ID well in advance of next spring’s primary election, when enforcement of the law is scheduled to begin. However, the plaintiffs will still make their case for a permanent injunction at a later date.
Last week’s Franklin & Marshall College Poll found that 2% of registered voters say they lack a valid photo ID; 59% favor the law.
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