A GOP consultant’s accidental candor on voter-ID laws

Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter
Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter

When it comes to voter-suppression techniques, Republicans generally maintain a certain pretense, at least in public. They argue that measures such as voter-ID laws aren’t about blocking Americans’ access to their own elections, but rather, about preventing imaginary fraud. The defense isn’t compelling, but GOP officials generally repeat it with a straight face.

Once in a great while, however, a Republican will slip and tell the truth.

Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter appeared on a panel Monday hosted by the Pew Center on the States to discuss the long lines and voter ID controversies that plagued the 2012 election. In his comments, Tranter seemed to imply that he believed these issues were helpful to Republicans and should be pursued for that reason.

“A lot of us are campaign officials – or campaign professionals – and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that’s voter ID, sometimes we think that’s longer lines – whatever it may be,” Tranter said with a laugh.

In fairness, I have not yet seen the full context, but the Huffington Post talked to Michael McDonald, head of the non-partisan George Mason University Election Project, who was in the room and heard everything Tranter said. Asked how he reacted to Tranter’s comments, McDonald said, “I couldn’t believe that they were said.” He added that those around him shared similar looks, with attendees surprised by what they’d heard.

What’s more, note that Tranter, though hardly a household name, is not an obscure, outside-the-establishment figure: his firm did “data consulting” for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, and he’s served as a consultant for John McCain’s 2008 campaign and the NRSC.

And according to this Republican campaign professional, Republicans “sometimes” want to make voting more difficult, on purpose, “to help our side” win elections. Tranter said this out loud, on camera, in front of a room full of political professionals.

The next time GOP officials insist their voter-suppression tactics are about nothing more than protecting the integrity of elections, keep Tranter’s jaw-dropping candor in mind.

A GOP consultant's accidental candor on voter-ID laws