As Michael Kinsley famously said, “a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” By Kinsley’s definition, Mike Turzai — the Republican House Majority Leader of Pennsylvania — has made a gaffe of epic proportions.
This past weekend, Turzai took the stage at the Republican State Committee meeting and confirmed what Democrats have consistently asserted: that the GOP is pushing voter ID laws for purely political reasons, in an effort to suppress Democratic voters. As Kelly Cernetich of PoliticsPA.com reported, Turzai said in a speech highlighting recent conservative achievements: “Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Video of his admission is below:
The Voter ID “achievement” that Turzai is referring to is a strict electoral law that was adopted by Pennsylvania this past March. The law requires voters to show a Pennsylvania driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID before voting; a college ID or personal care home ID are also accepted, as long as they are current and have an expiration date. However, out of 110 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, only 15 had printed such IDs, a dilemma that has Pennsylvania colleges rushing to make and issue new ones.
This election year has seen several Republican leaders scrambling to–in their words–“protect the integrity and fairness of the democratic system.” Despite the fact that being hit by lightning is more likely than voter fraud, Republicans have insisted on measures such as Pennsylvania’s aforementioned voter ID law and Florida’s controversial voter purges to curb the little to non-existent fraud. These seemingly politically motivated actions have raised questions about whether Republicans are really worried about fraud, or just worried about electing Republicans. After all, voter ID laws tend to target Democratic-leaning groups such as college students, minorities, and the poor because they are most likely to not have an ID or will have the most trouble obtaining one. Turzai’s voter ID comment confirms Democrats’ suspicions.
As Democratic Senator Daylin Leach told Cernetich: “This is making clear to everyone what Voter ID was all about. This is about one thing: disenfranchising Democratic voters and rigging elections for Republicans….When they get behind closed doors, they admit it. And that’s exactly what Turzai did.”