Pennsylvania state senator: Voter ID law is about ‘suppressing votes’


Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said Saturday that a recent voter ID law passed in his state “would allow Governor Romney to win Pennsylvania.” He included this statement in a list of his party’s accomplishments, which critics of the legislation—including a Pennsylvania state senator—say unintentionally revealed the true intentions behind the law.

“The classic definition of a gaffe is when a politician accidentally says something that’s true,” said Michael Waldman, president of NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, on Tuesday’s PoliticsNation. ”It’s as if he took truth serum. I don’t know what he was thinking.”

Voter ID legislation bars individuals from voting unless they present government-issued identification at polling places. Critics of these laws are not intended to reduce fraud so much as they are supposed to prevent traditionally Democratic constituencies—such as the poor, African Americans and young people, who are all less likely to have the required identification—from voting.

“Voter impersonation, which is the only form of voter fraud that voter ID would address, never occurs in Pennsylvania,” said State Senator Daylin Leach, a Pennsylvania Democrat, during the same episode. “There’s not one single documented case of it in ten years. This was always about suppressing votes of people who vote the wrong way.”

According to the Brennan Center, ten states have passed voter ID laws since the beginning of 2011, including the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. On PoliticsNation, Waldman estimated that the law would affect as many as 11% of eligible voters nationwide.

In May 1, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that ACLU of Pennsylvania and other groups were filing a lawsuit to have Pennsylvania’s ID law overturned.

“We think it’s illegal,” Waldman said. “And we hope it’s going to be overturned.” His organization is involved in numerous lawsuits against ID laws across the country.