Pennsylvania’s GOP chairman, Rob Gleason, is pleased with how effective Voter ID laws were in the 2012 election. Despite President Obama’s victory, Gleason believes the laws did what they were designed to do: suppress the Democratic vote.
When asked by a Pennsylvania cable news reporter earlier this week if the laws affected last year’s elections, Gleason responded: “I think we had a better election. Think about this: we cut Obama by 5 percent…I think Voter ID helped a bit in that.”
Prior to the election, Mike Turzai — the Republican House Majority Leader of Pennsylvania — made similar statements about Voter ID laws. Speaking at a June 2012 Republican State Committee meeting, a boastful Turzai said: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
In the summer of 2012, data released by Pennsylvania election officials showed that 758,000 registered voters did not have photo IDs from the state’s Department of Transportation. Although other forms of photo ID would be accepted at the polls, like passports and military identification, transportation department ID is the standard form of identification for most voters. In heavily Democratic urban hubs like Philadelphia, 18 percent of voters did not have driver’s licenses issued by the DOT.
The Supreme Court recently struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, intensifying the debate over Voter ID laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday, where members of Congress discussed rewriting the law to meet the Supreme Court’s standards. A House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Voting Rights Act is scheduled for Thursday, which may show how far apart the two bodies are on this issue.
At the Senate Judiciary hearing, numerous politicians expressed concerns over the Supreme Court’s decision.
Representative John Lewis (D-GA) said at Wednesday’s hearing, “sections 4 and 5 are the heart and soul of the Voting Rights Act.” Representative James Sensenbrenner said the Court’s decision “disregarded years and years of work of the legislative branch.”