PA Democrats Ridicule Turzai, GOP Over Voter ID; Say ‘Your Ideas Suck’
You’ve heard about it by now. Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai let his comments at this weekend’s Republican State Committee meeting get a little out of hand when he told the conservative audience the Pennsylvania Voter ID bill will help Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney win the commonwealth come November.
“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,” he said.
His comments have drawn ire from state and national Democrats and liberals, and has led to headlines across the country. Because until now, pro-Voter ID Republicans have maintained the rule has nothing to do with partisan politics, everything to do with voter fraud. Capitalizing on that, some General Assembly Democrats held a press conference this morning where they unloaded on Turzai and Pennsylvania Republicans.
The press conference, organized by State Sen. Daylin Leach, began with background on Turzai’s statements, which the Majority Leader’s spokesman Stephen Miskin say are being taken out of context for political gain.
“He was simply referencing, for the first time in a long while, the Republican Presidential candidate will be on a more even keel thanks to Voter ID…Anyone looking further into it has their own agenda,” said Miskin, who also noted, according to CBS, the “Republican candidate – presidential candidate – is going to have a fairer playing field.”
Leach said that explanation does “not pass the laugh test.” He noted voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in Pennsylvania and the United States and ended his opening statements with this burn: “If you have to stop people voting to win elections, your ideas suck.”
During debate on the issue in March, Leach noted Americans are more likely to be hit by lightning than misrepresent themselves at the polls.
Alongside Leach were Sen. Vincent Hughes, Sen. Eugene DePasquale, Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, Rep. Dan Frankel and Rep. Babette Josephs, the latter of whom focused on the money being spent on Voter ID laws.
As we’ve written in the past, Republicans have been pushing Voter ID bills in several states since 2010. Governor Tom Corbett has noted the bill “does not interfere with anyone’s legal right to vote.” Although, that seems to have been said mistakenly, which is why the ACLU is currently pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs, including Germantown resident Viviette Applewhite, who will not be able to vote in November. Additionally, the law makes it tougher on a lot of us—but mostly women, the elderly, students, minorities and the homeless. Local groups like the Committee of Seventy have worked on providing the public with Voter ID education. And local activist Faye Anderson has released a Voter ID web application to give those confused about the law some answers. The Obama Administration has a web-based voter assistance program, as well.
The Democrats on stage in the Capitol also claimed the legislation and Turzai’s statement is admission that Mitt Romney and Republican ideas aren’t good enough on their own, so their party has to cheat to get ahead.
“I know we’ve got a bad candidate and bad ideas,” said DePasquale, mimicking a Republican legislator in favor of Voter ID, “but don’t worry.”
Other than partisan bickering, the biggest piece of news to come out of the presser was Leach’s suggestion that Rep. Turzai’s comments will likely be used in the Voter ID litigation as it’s challenged in court. The comment, he said, “shows this was…intended to disenfranchise voters who don’t vote the right way”—and not to stop voter fraud, as Republicans in the House and Senate claimed during debate and thereafter.
“We told you from the beginning that’s what this was about,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, noting the legislation has “everything to do with rigging” the 2012 election for Mitt Romney.
Pennsylvania has typically been known as a swing state. However, Republicans have failed to win Pennsylvania since 1988, and President Barack Obama’s huge win in 2008 showed the Keystone state may be farther away from Republican presidential control than ever — so long as people come out to vote. Other than Voter ID, there were a few other moves taken by Republicans to allegedly swing the state back, including a dead-for-now plan that floated giving electoral votes to presidential candidates by U.S. Congressional district, which would have hurt President Obama’s chances of winning re-election, given Pennsylvania’s importance in national elections.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has called Voter ID “an unconstitutional law that will disenfranchise tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.” They, alongside the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit “are asking the Commonwealth Court to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the law before November’s election,” according to the ACLU’s statement about the legal challenge. A trial has been scheduled for July 25 at the Judicial Center in Harrisburg.