Rep. Mike Turzai (R-PA) admitted voter suppression efforts in Pennsylvania were intended to help Republicans win.
While voter suppression efforts in Georgia are making headlines, Republicans north of the Mason-Dixon Line have also been strong proponents of denying the basic right to vote for partisan gain.
Rep. Mike Turzai (R-PA) spearheaded Pennsylvania’s voter suppression efforts, and he made no secret about his intent.
In a speech summing up legislative accomplishments in 2012, Turzai boasted, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
At the time, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and a Senate candidate in Utah, was challenging President Barack Obama. President Obama won the election and carried Pennsylvania, despite Turzai’s insidious efforts.
Without support from even a single Democratic lawmaker, Republicans in the House and Senate pushed through a draconian voter ID law, which was signed by the Republican governor.
Opponents of the law contended that the issue had nothing to do with voter fraud, but was simply a way to suppress Democratic voters. After all, “those who do not possess a state-approved photo ID are more likely to be in groups that tend to vote Democratic,” reports the New York Times.
Turzai nonetheless claimed the law was intended to stop voter fraud, which his spokesperson insisted was not at all a made-up claim used as cover to suppress Democratic voters.
“The fact is, fraud does exist,” Turzai’s spokesperson said, without any evidence to back it up.
While Turzai had no problem sending his minion to lie to the press, the law was challenged in court and the truth emerged.
According to the Times, “in Pennsylvania’s case, the state could not point to a single incident” of voter fraud.
A Pennsylvania court struck down the voter ID law in a scathing 103-page opinion.
“The judge, Bernard L. McGinley of Commonwealth Court, ruled that the law hampered the ability of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and that the state’s reason for the law — that it was needed to combat voter fraud — was not supported by the facts,” reported the Times.
The real reason for the law was abundantly clear.
“The type of problem that is addressed by voter ID laws is virtually nonexistent, which does raise the question of why they are passing these laws,” Witold Walczak, ACLU’s legal director, told the Times. “And the answer is that it is a voter suppression tool.”
Turzai’s efforts may have been overturned by the courts, but his intent — to deny eligible citizens of their most fundamental right in a democracy — is an anti-democratic stain that lives on.