Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason recently suggested that Republicans were boosted in the 2012 election by controversy surrounding a voter identification law that wasn't yet in effect last November.
Speaking with the Pennsylvania Cable Network in an exchange captured by the state Democratic Party and uploaded to YouTube this week, Gleason was asked if "all the attention drawn to voter ID affected last year's elections."
"Yeah, I think a little bit," Gleason responded. "We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big. ... He beat [2008 GOP presidential candidate John] McCain by 10 percent, he only beat [2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt] Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably photo ID helped a bit in that."
(Watch Gleason's answer above.)
While Pennsylvania voters were not required to show photo identification in November after a federal judge blocked the law a month before, the state was allowed to proceed with an advertising campaign that critics of the measure argued was misleading. Ads pushing the voter ID law read "Show It" with the tagline "if you have it" in small print.
Gleason didn't clarify how he believed the measure could have helped shave 5 percent from the state's Democratic electorate, but voter ID critics said at the time that would-be voters who didn't have valid identification could be discouraged from casting ballots because they believed the restriction was in effect. This could also have potentially included illegal voters, though studies show that voter fraud occurs rarely so preventing such votes would have had little impact on November's outcome.
Pennsylvania House GOP Majority Leader Mike Turzai, more directly touted the benefits voter ID would give Republicans during a speech last summer, in which he said the law would "allow Governor Romney to win the state."
Claims that voter ID laws help the GOP -- even when they are not being enforced -- have surfaced as the measure faces its latest round of scrutiny in state court. On Tuesday, statistical expert Bernard Siskin testified that enforcing the law could end up disenfranchising more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians who don't currently possess valid photo ID. As a whole, Siskin said that Democrats were three times as likely as Republicans not to have the required ID, while minorities are about twice as likely as whites.
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