(Update) Voter ID on trial in Pennsylvania

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The AP wraps up the first week of trial. Pennsylvania voter ID law trial wraps up first week:

A professor who specializes in political communication gave low
grades Friday to the 2012 multimedia campaign to educate Pennsylvania
voters about the state’s new voter-identification law as part of a court
trial on its constitutionality.

Diana Mutz, a faculty member at
the University of Pennsylvania and its Annenberg School for
Communication, said the centerpiece of the campaign — TV ads in which
people holding up photo ID cards urged voters to “show it” — seemed
confusing.

“It wasn’t always clear what ‘it’ was,” said Mutz, the
author of several books, who testified as an expert witness on behalf of
plaintiffs who sued the state in an attempt to overturn the
yet-to-be-enforced March 2012 law.

The “show it” slogan, which was
also incorporated in radio and print ads, also provided little guidance
to voters who lacked a Pennsylvania drivers’ license or other
acceptable IDs.

“To say ‘show it’ presumes you have it,” she said.

Her testimony wrapped up the first week of the trial in Commonwealth Court.

Testifying
in court a day earlier, a top state official had boasted that the $5
million, federally funded voter-outreach initiatives was more expansive
than similar efforts by other states. Deputy Secretary of State Shannon
Royer touted it as a success, even though enforcement of the law was
blocked by the court in the presidential election and the May primary,
and details of the ID system were in flux for much of last year.

* * *

Mutz criticized state officials failure to solicit meaningful voter
feedback through focus groups or similar contacts, and said that made it
impossible to gauge the campaign’s effectiveness in telling people
about the law and ensuring that those who lacked acceptable ID knew how
they could get it.

She also questioned officials’ decision not to
emphasize changes made last September in an effort to simplify the
process for obtaining a free Department of State photo ID that is for
voting purposes only.

The changes removed a requirement that
people without other acceptable IDs must apply for a PennDOT card before
they could qualify for the Department of State card. Now, registered
voters can qualify by providing only their name, address including
county, at least the last four digits of their Social Security number
and their date of birth. The Department of State cards are still issued
by PennDOT.

“There was never any effort to go back and tell people, ‘it’s a new ballgame,’" Mutz said.

Friday was the fifth day of testimony in what is expected to be a
nine-day Commonwealth Court trial on a lawsuit seeking to overturn the
law. The second week of trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

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