Pennsylvania House Republican majority leader Mike Turzai's candid boast that the state's new voter identification laws would succeed in delivering Pennsylvania to the GOP is drawing widespread ridicule from Democrats across the Keystone State. State Sen. Daylin Leach thinks its proof that Turzai and his fellow Republicans have ideas that "suck."
Over the weekend, Turzai addressed the Republican State Committee and appeared to admit that, contrary to popular Republican claims, voter ID efforts were about more than simply combatting alleged voter fraud.
"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation -- abortion facility regulations -- in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," Turzai said, drawing ringing applause from the group.
Republican officials in Pennsylvania have responded to the resulting criticism, saying that Turzai was simply arguing that voter ID laws produced a "fairer playing field," but state Democrats like Leach aren't buying it.
Philadelphia Weekly reports:
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.”
Other Democrats went on to suggest that Turzai's remarks were evidence that Republicans knew they had a "bad candidate" with "bad ideas," and were willing to cheat to make up for the lack of enthusiasm.
Pennsylvania's new voter ID law was passed March with the help of a Republican legislature. It will require voters to show a driver's license or government-issued photo ID before voting, a requirement that the measure's opponents say could disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters who frequently lean Democratic.
Below, more controversial voting laws:
Tensions run high in Florida, a critical battleground state that passed an election law last year with several contested provisions. One bans a decade-long practice of early voting on Sundays before the election -- a window when as many as 30 percent of black voters have previously cast ballots after attending church in a "souls to the polls" movement. Republican lawmakers claim the provision is meant to reduce election fraud, but some black Democrats say the calculation is more sinister. "It's my feeling it was done deliberately, a premeditated design, to suppress the vote of African-Americans in this country because it's playing out all over the nation in every state. It was intentional," Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) said.
The Justice Department dealt a blow to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, arguing that it discriminated along racial lines. Haley's administration fired back with a lawsuit that is expected to be decided in September. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said earlier this year that Republicans hope to tip the outcome of the presidential election by lowering voter turnout by 1 percent in each of nine states that have passed voter ID laws, the West Ashley Patch reports. "I know nothing has changed yet," he said. "But I just do not trust the judiciary that we're operating under."
Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, voters must show a photo ID issued by the state or federal government. The state-issued IDs are free, but getting one requires a birth certificate, which costs $10 in Pennsylvania. Not everyone is having an easy time navigating the new system. Earlier this month, Viviette Applewhite, 93, filed a lawsuit with the ACLU and NAACP challenging the law. Applewhite, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, does not have a driver's license, and the state cannot find her birth certificate. She is afraid that this year will be the first since 1960 that she will be unable to vote. Applewhite's dilemma is not uncommon. Some 700,000 Pennsylvanians lack photo ID and half of them are seniors. According to the Brennan Center, 25 percent of voting-age black citizens have no government-issued photo ID, compared to 8 percent of white citizens.
The Kansas House voted earlier this year to move up the date a proof of citizenship law goes into effect to June 15, 2012, so it will limit who can vote in the presidential election. HuffPost's John Celock reports: Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka) said the entire idea of proof of citizenship to vote would fail in court due to it being discriminatory against married women who change their names. Mah said that women who change their name need to provide proof of marriage and citizenship and an affidavit regarding the name change. Rep. Scott Schwab (R-Olathe) took issue with Mah's claims of court challenges. "I get frustrated that everyone who does not like policy says we'll end up in court," he said. Only 48 percent of voting-age women with access to their birth certificates have a birth certificate with a current legal name, which means that as many as 32 million American women do not have proof of citizenship with their current legal name, according to the Brennan Center. The bill to change the start date eventually failed, but will still go into effect next year.
Last year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a voter ID bill into law, calling it a "common sense reform" that would "go a long way to protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin." As Walker's June 5 recall election approached, two judges suspended it on the basis that it is unconstitutional. Still, poll workers reportedly asked some voters to show photo ID during Wisconsin's April 2 primary, and one woman said that she and her 87-year-old mother were turned away at the polls because they lacked current photo IDs -- even though they were registered to vote. "We were listed on their friggin' poll list and yet we had our names highlighted," the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.