With Pennsylvania's recently enacted voter ID law on trial and under federal scrutiny for its alleged potential to disenfranchise voters and complicate the electoral process, one state Republican lawmaker has taken the opposite view, saying the measure could actually lead to increased turnout.
State Rep. Warren Kampf (R) underscored his contention by pointing to a similar law enacted by Georgia in 2006, one of the first of its kind.
“Georgia has a very similar law. They’ve had it for six years. And they had it in 2008 and in those communities which often are said to have been impacted by voter ID laws, the turnout was actually far greater than it should have been demographically," Kampf said at at a Monday town hall meeting, according to Patch.
"There isn’t a demonstrated situation where these sorts of laws have disenfranchised people," he added. "And, honestly, I’m beginning to feel like this law may actually enfranchise people. [Though] I can’t guarantee that.”
Voter ID opponents frequently argue that such measures disproportionately affect minority communities, which are more likely to be impacted by factors such as limited access to transportation and ID-issuing offices, as well as costs associated with getting the necessary documentation to obtain valid ID.
Voters in these communities did indeed turn out in higher numbers in 2008 than they had in prior elections. In that election, however, Barack Obama, the first black presidential candidate, was on the ballot. Putting aside the suggestion that his presence alone may have had something to do with increased turnout, PolitiFact notes that the Obama campaign's black voter registration effort was unprecedented and at its most ambitious in Georgia, where it sought to register and turn out 500,000 unregistered black voters. According to PolitiFact, the surge was unsurprisingly not a result of the state's voter ID law.
Reports in Pennsylvania have suggested that somewhere between around 750,000 and 1.36 million eligible voters currently lack valid ID. Voting rights activists claim that the voter ID law create obstacles for many of these people, all for the stated purpose of preventing voter fraud -- a crime that by almost all accounts is highly infrequent.
While Kampf reportedly said that he was intent on helping those without ID take the required steps needed to cast ballots in November, state election officials have appeared less concerned.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele (R) took the stand Tuesday during a trial against the Keystone State's voter ID law and maintained, counter to most calculations, that 99 percent of voters already have the documentation they'll need to vote. During her testimony, however, she also made an admission that raised some eyebrows.
"I don't know what the law says," Aichele said.