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Pennsylvania GOP Chief Admits Voter ID Laws Suppressed Democratic Vote In 2012

Memo Pad Politics

Pennsylvania GOP Chief Admits Voter ID Laws Suppressed Democratic Vote In 2012


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.”


  1. Lynda Groom July 17, 2013

    Voter fraud is alive and kicking in the GOP camp.

    1. sigrid28 July 17, 2013

      I know what you mean, but I might say instead “FAKE voter fraud as an excuse for voter ID laws is alive and kicking in the GOP camp.” They tried also reducing hours and days for voting, made the absentee ballot voter process cumbersome, and did (and are doing) all that they possibly can to suppress voting by college students from out of state. Now the SCOTUS ruling has emboldened the party of no fact-checkers and racism to boast about their success in defying the law of the country. The sooner the federal government can set up guidelines superseding these state and local outrages, the more fair our government will be for all concerned.

  2. Sand_Cat July 17, 2013

    The trolls haven’t arrived yet to continue their denial that voter ID and other such laws are in any way intended to do anything other than preventing ACORN (or, in a few of the less delusional, ex-ACORN) voting of nine or ten times each. But then, most of the other places where this is mentioned don’t have quite so obvious a refutation of their lies.

    1. Suralin July 18, 2013

      Indeed. (For those who don’t know, ACORN closed its doors in late 2010 and is defunct now.)

  3. charleo1 July 17, 2013

    For your consideration on this issue. And, we might not get the final word.
    I’ll admit I was surprised at the support this idea has gotten from the GOP
    rank, and file. From T-Party followers, not so much. Because it was very
    obvious to me, the reason the TP wrapped everything in the flag, was they
    were about to do some very radical things, they knew the majority didn’t
    agree with. And, they hoped people would identify them with all the good,
    and decent things that flag represents. Call it judging a book by it’s cover.
    Or, a case where the clothes made the man. In this case the flag served
    to hide the radical. Their success was undeniable. They also understood
    their inevitable unmasking would make that success a one off. Unless they
    were able to ensconce, and insulate themselves from democracy’s most
    powerful weapon aganist all comers. Be they, liars, or anarchist, wise, or
    worthless. It is the voter that decides. And the voter must not be obstructed.
    Or we must call our system something else.

  4. easton July 17, 2013

    but you are as of now not required to have voting id as the law was struck down. this from csm:

    Prior to the presidential election last fall, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    upheld the constitutionality of the photo ID law but raised questions
    about whether certain voters might find it difficult to obtain the
    required government-issued ID in time to vote.

    The courts blocked strict enforcement of the law until after the November presidential
    election. The injunction was later extended to include Pennsylvania’s
    May 21 primary.

    Judge Bernard Bigley has set aside 10 days for testimony on whether it should be upheld.

  5. easton July 17, 2013

    here is one other passage from the csm article:

    The state is providing free voter ID to any registered voter facing a special burden under the new law, said Senior Deputy Attorney General Timothy Keating in the state’s brief.

    The ID law does not violate the state constitution’s requirement of free
    and fair elections, he said, because the requirement applies to all
    voters equally. The fact that some voters may be more inconvenienced
    than others in obtaining the proper ID does not render the process
    unequal, he wrote.

    “Disenfranchisement – the wrong that is sought
    to be avoided – results from systematic and insurmountable impediments
    to exercising the right to vote,” Mr. Keating said, not from mere

    this, of course, is pure garbage. It is not an inconvenience it is an insurmountable impediment otherwise why would Republicans go about doing it? And the reason it is insurmountable is that only place to get id’s is a dept. of motor vehicle offices which are invariably located outside the city not easily accessible by public transportation.

    The Republicans are basically evil bastards. Though I am pretty Conservative I can never vote for a party that seeks to disenfranchise its citizens because of whom they would vote for.

  6. Dominick Vila July 18, 2013

    Sadly, we have seen nothing yet. The recent ruling by the Supreme Court on this issue all but guarantees the marginalization of large segments of our society. People who because of financial considerations or physical handicap do not have a drivers license may not be able to vote in the future. The GOP understands, perhaps better than some of us do, that many Americans will not go out of their way to get IDs to vote. Curtailing voting days and hours will also have a negative impact on those who cast their vote after going to church on Sunday and getting a ride from friendly parishioners. Above all, the SCOTUS ruling is likely to empower State and local governments that were already inclined to make it as difficult as possible for members of certain groups to vote.
    Instead of promoting greater participation in one of our most fundamental rights, some parts of the country are likely to do the opposite and, in so doing, make our dismal voting record worse than it has been.

    1. TZToronto July 18, 2013

      They should design an app for voter ID. I have no idea how that would work, but I’m not an app designer. Of course, in red states, that would never fly since the goal is to disenfranchise all but old, white males, most of whom still use rotary telephones.

      1. Dominick Vila July 18, 2013

        Most countries have mandatory identification cards that include a photo, name, address and, sometimes, a fingerprint of the bearer. Obtaining an ID in those countries is easy and very often free. Unfortunately, we see such a system as evidence of a police state, or pretend to see it that way because it would remove an effective barrier to achieve an important goal, which is the need to make it as difficult as possible for some people to exercise their right to vote.
        The voter ID issue is the ultimate manifestation of gerrymandering, and it is likely to be as effective, if not more so.

        1. RSDrake July 18, 2013

          Except “gerrymandering” cuts both ways.

          1. DemInExile July 18, 2013

            But only one party has used the results of gerrymandering to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the other party. The Democratic party would never even consider such an authoritarian abuse of power. This is most definitely NOT a case of “both sides do it”

          2. RSDrake July 18, 2013

            Not true. In our area the democrat and the republican got together and gerrymandered themselves into perpetual House seats.

          3. DemInExile July 18, 2013

            I understand you are equating gerrymandering to disenfranchisement, but they are not the same. One dilutes your vote, the other prevents you from even casting it. And I say this as a progressive in one of the most regressive states – yes, my vote has been made less effective through gerrymandering, but I can still cast it. I can still exercise my right as a citizen.

            Furthermore, while my congressional representatives don’t speak for me, I can have a great influence on local elections whereas millions of people in PA and elsewhere are being denied not only the right to vote for Obama or Romney (where their individual votes are much less likely to matter), but the ability to vote for their local mayor, council member, school board members, etc….

            Gerrymandering, while bad, is not the same as disenfranchisement.

        2. TZToronto July 18, 2013

          The bottom line is that the GOP is claiming to combat a problem, voter fraud, that does not exist.

    2. PissedoffinAZ July 18, 2013

      Time was that greater voter participation was the goal of both parties. Now that is sacrilege to the GOP. If you can’t win honestly, cheat, like in Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, and of course, let’s not forget Bush and Cheney both being from Texas: not enough to break laws, let’s ignore the Constitution when it doesn’t fit our (and of course, God’s) plan.

  7. docb July 18, 2013

    Shameless and repugnant. And he and they are bragging about it!

  8. CJR July 18, 2013

    That statement, alone, should be grounds for a Section 2 investigation under what is left of the Voting Rights Act.

  9. Lorr July 18, 2013

    Before our disgraceful Supreme Court came down with the decision on this, I said we needed to expand Section 4 to all States based on the actions of the Republican Party and their efforts to disenfranchise voters. SCOTUS is supposed to Interpret the Constitution and our laws, not strike down parts of the Constitution or our laws to advance their own Political Party. What SCOTUS has done is joined the Republican Party in disenfranchising voters based on their color, age and political affiliation.

  10. RSDrake July 18, 2013

    I’m shocked!!!

  11. CrankyToo July 18, 2013

    Kudos to all of you for the thoughtful (and tactful) commentary. But you’re overthinking this. I can boil this subject down to one simple three word phrase…
    Repugnicans are scum!


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