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be aware of the laws of PA


The Federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) an Pennsylvania Act 150 of 2002 (in Election Code) now requires voters who appear to vote in an election district for the FIRST TIME or if you are a first time voter in a FEDERAL ELECTION to produce a copy of any of the following acceptable forms of identification.

   The following are acceptable forms of photo identification:

      *A valid driver's license

      *A valid photo ID card issued by Penn Dot

      *A valid ID card issued by the Commonwealth

      *A valid ID card issued by the United States Government

      *A valid United States passport

      *A valid employee ID card

      *A valid armed forces of the United States ID card

Also permitted are one of the following forms of ID that shows your name and address:

      *A non-photo identification issued by the Commonwealth

      *A non-photo identification issued bye the United States Government

      *A firearm permit

      *A current utility bill

      *A current bank statement

      *A paycheck

      *A government check

      *A Voter Identification Card


Mike Ellis
Friday April 7, 2000
Inaccurate records can be abused
The response we've received so far to the 82,000 names of registered Fayette County voters posted on the Herald-Standard Internet page ( is an interesting mix.

Some called the newsroom to let us know several people still on the list have moved out of the county. Others who now live in other states have used the Internet to check the list to see if their names are still on it. They are.

One person, who moved out of state, noticed she was registered to vote in two different places. One with her maiden name. The other with her married name.

One widow reported her deceased husband's name remains on the registration list even though she reported his death to election officials.

One clarification I need to make from a previous column was the statement by a Voter Integrity Project official who said anyone could register to vote by filling out a voter registration card with just a post office box.

Lori Nicholson, chief of the Fayette County Election Bureau, said a change in the law about two years ago prohibits anyone from registering to vote without a street address.

As was reported previously, the Voter Integrity Project, a national program operated by volunteers concerned about the integrity of the voting process, is searching the records of Fayette County. They are comparing death certificates and other public records with the names on the list of registered voters.

After this project is completed, the names will be turned over to county officials to bring the registration list up to date.

Voter Integrity officials have said they believe as many as 8,000 names could be on the voter registration list of people who have died or who have moved out of the county.

That number, of course, would not include individuals who might be mentally incompetent to vote but who are legally registered, such as was the case in the recent absentee ballot voter fraud incident involving residents of a nursing home.

Now that these names are percolating to the surface, it would be interesting to compare them against a list which shows whether or not ballots were cast under those names in recent elections. This, of course, points to the real problem with inaccurate voting lists.

If an unscrupulous candidate needs 40 or 50 votes to win public office, he or she has possibly 8,000 names to choose from.

You have to ask yourself how many people would know if hundreds of names of deceased or otherwise unqualified voters remain on the voter registration list. Would it be to anyone's advantage to have this information?

Who would know if they could use the names to cast ballots to gain a winning margin?

Who is checking to make sure the names on the ballots are legitimate?

Fayette County, unfortunately, has had too many examples of those who sought to manipulate the system to profit themselves. Some of them have been exposed. Some have been prosecuted. Many have just not been caught doing it.

As long as we ignore the warning signs you can expect the abuses to continue without pause.

Closed-door meetings of public boards, secret conferences where the public is excluded, lax or inaccurate record keeping for tax assessments, zoning records and other public documents, resistance or refusal to allow access to public records, threats of retaliation in response to requests for information, intimidation tactics intended to block access to public records, violations of hiring policies, and a casual attitude toward maintaining accurate voter registration lists create an environment ripe for abuse.

If you compare recent incidents in Fayette County to the list of warning signs above, there's good reason to be alarmed.

We know about some of the abuses that have occurred. It's the ones we don't know about that should concern us.

As long as we don't demand access to public records, insist on accuracy and force accountability from our public offices and public officials, the abuses will continue.


Mike Ellis is the editor of the Herald-Standard. His e-mail address is:

Mike Ellis
Friday March 24, 2000
List may show 10,000 ineligible voters
If you recall, the winning difference in recent county-wide elections amounted to just a couple hundred votes for some offices. In some cases, the victory was awarded with as few as 50 votes.

Now, would you be surprised to know that there may be as many as 10,000 ineligible voters on the Fayette County voter registration list?

With a block of 10,000 votes you could elect just about anybody to any county-wide office, if you had control over that many votes. This means that there may be 10,000 names on the registration list for people who have died, have moved out of the county, or who are registered under false names.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the potential for corruption and abuse of the election process in Fayette County is significant.

Here are some other statistics: Fayette County has a population of 145,351, based on the 1990 Census. Of that number, about 35,000 were under the age of 18 and could not register to vote.

This leaves 110,268 people who were eligible to register as voters. Of that number, according to the Fayette County Election Bureau's latest records, 82,000 are on the registration list.

Those numbers are not exact or up to date since they were based on the 1990 Census. It's estimated that the 145,000 total population has probably dropped to around 142,000.

Officials at the national Voter Integrity Project, headquartered in Washington, D.C., said the 82,000 registered voters ``sounds high" for a county with Fayette's population numbers.

The group is doing a search now of the county's voter registration list with the goal of weeding out ineligible voters, such as duplicated names, persons who are deceased, and those who have moved out of the county.

The Voter Integrity volunteers are matching up the names to other vital statistic records, such as death certificates.

They estimate the Fayette County list could contain ``10 to 25% deadwood," voters who are not eligible to cast ballots.

Just how difficult is it to sign up people to vote? Voter Integrity officials said a simple call to the election office with a request for an absentee ballot will do it. You don't even have to show up at the polls to cast votes for a candidate.

If you get a stack of voter registration cards, you can sign up non-existent people from addresses listed to post office boxes.

If nobody is watching, the potential for abuse of the voting process can be significant, they said. This could mean control of borough councils, school boards, county elected offices, and any number of other elected positions could be won by a relatively low number of votes cast.

With the recent grand jury indictments handed down for voter fraud in the mountain area of the county, it demonstrates the ease for individuals to manipulate the system if no one is watching.

With the high potential for abuse staring us in the face, there is something you can do as an individual to inject accuracy back into the registration numbers.

We are posting the voter registration list on the Herald-Standard Web page,, this week. We are listing names and precincts, but no addresses.

You can access the site, review the names in your precinct or others, and give us a call or send us a note when you find names of people you know are deceased or who have moved out of state. We will turn the list over the Election Bureau and the Voter Integrity Project for verification and follow up.

The posting of voter registration lists is not unprecedented in Pennsylvania. Officials in Delaware County have posted court, deed and tax assessment records on the county's Web site. They plan to add campaign finance data for everyone to review also. Other counties in Pennsylvania have similar Web pages planned for public records to be posted.

If you want to return control of the election process to legitimate voters in Fayette County, review the registration list. Let us know what you find.

It's not the total answer to eliminating abuses and corruption in elections in Fayette County, but it's a step in the right direction.


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