Even though the Voter ID law was not enforced for the 2012 general election, through a careful statistical analysis of the available data we were able to determine with a 99% degree of certainty that between 35,239 and 36,613 voters were disenfranchised due to confusion caused by the State’s efforts to educate voters about photo ID requirements.
When the Commonwealth Court finally enjoined the Voter ID law in October of 2012, many opponents of the law criticized the Court for failing to address the State’s ongoing education efforts. The concern was that individuals would be led to believe that the Voter ID law was still in effect, and that confusion around the status of the law would cause many legitimate voters to stay home if they believed that they would not be allowed to vote. In fact, there were several reports of voters receiving mailers from the Department of State after the injunction was issued, which erroneously informed voters that they would not be allowed to vote without an approved photo ID.
“We have said all along that this law had nothing to do with preventing fraud,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “This law was always meant to confuse and intimidate legitimate voters, for the political advantage of the party who advocated for ID requirements. This analysis proves that even before being implemented, this law did exactly what its architects intended.”
Last week, a video clip of Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason was widely circulated in which he boasted that the Voter ID law had “helped” Republican candidates in 2012, and had perhaps cut into President Obama’s vote. This admission begged the question of how we could quantify the impact that Voter ID had on the 2012 general election. The analysis outlined in this press release demonstrates that Chairman Gleason’s comments on PCN were not a misstatement, but an accurate representation, as were his subsequent remarks that Voter ID “frightened a lot of people and when people are frightened about an election, they don’t vote.”
Further analysis revealed that among voters disenfranchised in 2012, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by more than 2.5 to one.
“When a legitimate voter is prevented from exercising their right, or intimidated or misled into staying home because they believe their vote will not be counted, that is the real fraud associated with Voter ID,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder. “One legitimate registered voter being prevented from exercising their right is enough of a reason to strike down or repeal this misguided law. Unfortunately, we can now point to more than 35,000 reasons.”
Assurances were made throughout the debate and trial over Voter ID in 2012, that no one would be disenfranchised by this law. Now that it has been proven that those assurances were at best wishful thinking and at worst disingenuous, supporters of this law will need to find a way to justify their position. We can think of no such justification for a law that is now known to disenfranchise legitimate voters, in the absence of any evidence being offered that would point to the type of voter fraud that this law was supposedly designed to combat.
“Voter suppression is not an attack on our fundamental rights, it’s an attack on our foundational rights;” added Frank Snyder. “The right to vote is at the very foundation of our Democracy. Without the right to vote, we have nothing.”