Pennsylvania isn’t the only state where Republicans created a voter-ID law to suppress the vote in 2012, but it’s one of the more offensive examples. By some estimates, nearly 1-in-10 eligible voters in Pennsylvania will be disenfranchised as part of a GOP scheme to rig the election.
They haven’t even been subtle about it. Republican Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s House Majority Leader, boasted that the state’s new voter-ID law, ostensibly about the integrity of the electoral process, “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
The available evidence suggests the state’s voter-ID law disproportionately affects African Americans, students, and the poor – the very constituencies the GOP doesn’t want to participate. Given this, the issue has raised eyebrows at the Justice Department, which has launched an investigation.
In a three-page letter sent to Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele on Monday, DOJ requested state data on registered voters as well as the state’s list of individuals with driver’s licenses and ID cards.
Additionally, DOJ requested information on the state’s efforts to educate voters about the new law as well as documents and records supporting a March 14 statement from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett (R) which claimed “99 percent of Pennsylvania’s already have acceptable photo IDs.” (The state’s own data later proved that figure wrong.)
As Joan McCarter added, “If the DOJ does end up suing Pennsylvania, it will have to show that there is significant racial disparity in the law’s effects, as well as the significance of the burden the ID requirement places on would-be voters.” That may not be too difficult.
Complicating matters, civil-rights proponents are moving forward with a state trial, challenging the law on constitutional grounds. As part of the case, Pennsylvania officials conceded, in court documents, that there’s been no reported in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and there isn’t likely to be in November.
Got that? Pennsylvania Republicans passed the voter-ID law to prevent the scourge of voter fraud, which they now admit, formally and in writing, doesn’t really exist.
The trial is set to begin tomorrow. The Justice Department, meanwhile, expects a response from the state within 30 days.