Fresh off the story today on the city mailing inaccurate information on voter ID to 34,000 city workers, Inquirer readers alerted us to a similar, but far more significant problem – PECO sending bad Voter ID information to 1.3 million customers in seven Pennsylvania counties.
Like the city’s mailing, PECO’s “energy@HOME” newsletter advises voters that they’ll have to present a valid photo ID before they’ll be allowed to vote in the general election Nov. 6. In fact, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. suspended the photo ID requirement in a ruling on October 2 – right around the time that PECO’s newsletter began arriving in customer mailboxes, stuffed into their latest bills. On Election Day, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to show photo ID, but they’ll be allowed to vote whether they have it or not.
Cathy Engel Menendez, a PECO spokeswoman, said the newsletter wording was finalized in August and PECO began printing them around Sept. 12 -- a week before the state Supreme Court sent the case back to Simpson and told him he should tolerate no voter disenfranchisement.
“We were trying to do a service for our customers in Pennsylvania, to get the word out,” said another spokesman, Ben Armstrong. "Because of the press time of this particular publication, unfortunately the information in there is not entirely correct.” Customers who contact the company about the issue are being advised to consult the Department of State’s website, www.votespa.com, or call the state at 1-877-868-3772. The problem is that people who read the inaccurate info from PECO will have no reason to call the company unless they already know the newsletter is wrong.
Armstrong said PECO intends to continue sending out the inaccurate newsletter throughout its October billing cycle, which runs through October 28. It’s not possible for its printer to schedule a corrected run, he said, and the newsletter contains information on other programs “that needs to get” to customers. The other items this month include information on the utility’s home energy audits, how to make donations to its Matching Energy Assistance Fund, Fire Safety Month, and a cutout for customers to get discounts at the Please Touch Museum.
PECO’s next billing cycle begins October 29, a week before the election, but the company has no plans to mention Voter ID in its next newsletter, Armstrong said.