We’re in the middle of an inane battle with the Port Authority bus system right now in Pittsburgh.
For almost nine months, we have been trying to nicely convince the Port Authority to run an educational advertisement that explains the voting rights of ex-offenders in PA. Being nice didn’t work, and we finally filed suit against them last Thursday.
Pennsylvania law changed in 2000 to allow ex-felons to vote, even if they are on probation or parole. The information has been slow to disseminate, though, and many ex-offenders mistakenly think they do not have the right to vote.
So the ACLU partnered up with the League of Young Voters (Education Fund) to try and run a few ads on bus routes in areas with high concentrations of ex-offenders. We received some grant money to cover the cost advertising, and were ready to roll.
BUT the Port Authority repeatedly refused to run our ads, claiming that they only accept commercial advertising (questionable on First Amendment grounds anyway). Even beyond that, anyone who rides the bus in Pittsburgh knows their claim is not really true, and you can check out some supposedly ‘commercial’ ads run by the Port Authority here.
It looks like this has dragged on long enough that we will not be able to run the ad prior to the November elections, even if we win. Personally, I could think of better things to do with taxpayers’ money than fight running an educational, non-partisan ad, can’t you?
More on the case here.
Lisa in Pittsburgh