Last summer, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai caused a national firestorm when he was caught on video at the Republican State Convention saying “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania, done!”
While many opponents of the new photo ID requirements saw Turzai’s statement as an outright admission of the political motivations that were truly behind the law’s passage, new evidence and statements from this past week paint an even clearer picture.
First, there is reportedly a newly uncovered memo from individuals within the Corbett administration, who last November expressed concerns that the Voter ID law, as written, would disenfranchise seniors and voters with disabilities. The memo, which was reportedly signed by officials from the Departments of State and Aging, expressed concerns about voters who are elderly, ill, or disabled being unable to obtain a valid ID, and asked Corbett’s office to allow such voters to cast absentee ballots. The request was reportedly denied. The report that members of Corbett’s own administration were raising red flags last year about the risk of disenfranchising legitimate voters demonstrates the rapidly shrinking pool of individuals who believe that this law can be implemented in a constitutional manner.
But even that is not the worst of it. Last week, Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman, Rob Gleason, appeared on the PCN show On The Issues, and made the most startling claim yet about Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law.
Question: “Do you think all the attention drawn to Voter ID affected last year’s elections?”
Answer (Gleason): “Uh, yea I think a little bit. We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by five percent which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won, he beat McCain by ten percent and he only beat Romney by five percent. I think that probably Voter ID helped a bit in that.”
Keep in mind, that the Voter ID law was not enforced in the 2012 election; however, the State was not required to stop their advertising campaign or mailings that continued to misinform voters that they would be required to present a valid ID at the polls. There were many opponents of the law that claimed, at the time, that the resulting confusion and misinformation itself could discourage some voters without ID and cause them to stay home if they believed that they would not be allowed to vote. Chairman Gleason’s remarks last week seem to indicate that he believes that is exactly what happened, and that the disenfranchising of voters through this misinformation campaign “helped.”
While Chairman Gleason did not indicate how much of the five percent drop-off in Obama’s performance he would attribute to misinformation surrounding Voter ID, it likely had a larger effect than simply reducing the President’s win number. There were five incumbent Republican house members who held off challengers to win their elections by margins of less than three percent, including Rep. Saccone (0.1%), Rep. Micozzie (1.3%), Rep. Simmons (2.0%), Rep. Kampf (2.3%), and Rep. Truitt (2.7%). Based on GOP Chairman Gleason’s remarks on PCN, it seems that he is acknowledging that voter disenfranchisement through misinformation allowed a few of these representatives to capitalize on their support of Voter ID before the law was even implemented.
The already overwhelming evidence continues to mount that this law was never about preventing voter fraud, and that it was always only about voter suppression.