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Pennsylvania Republican Blows His Party's Cover on Voter ID Laws

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"Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania -- Done"

In that single sentence, part of a recitation of accomplishments by the Republican majority in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives, one of the state's senior GOP lawmakers blew the cover Saturday on his party's national campaign to keep millions of Americans away from the polls this November.

For months, Rep. Mike Turzai and other GOP legislators across the country have demanded that their states pass tough voter identification requirements as an antidote to an epidemic of vote fraud. They've used occasional reports of phantom voters -- people who exist on paper in the poll books but not in real life -- to justify an effort to require every voter to produce a government-issued photo ID before casting his or her ballot.

But voter ID proponents have conveniently ignored the mountain of evidence that most voter fraud reports turn out to be urban legands. As the Brennan Center for Justice reported in a comprehensive 2007 study, documented cases of fraud are rare in part because fraud is "a singularly foolish and ineffective way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud in connection with a federal election risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to any state penalties."

Now, thanks to Turzai's burst of honesty, we see that the voter ID campaign is the real fraud. Like too many activists in both parties these days, the people pushing it are driven by a win-at-any-cost mentality. They understand that the voters most likely to be unable to provide satisfactory IDs -- students, the elderly and disabled, the poor -- are disproportionately Democratic. Rather than build a campaign that might persuade those voters to vote differently, these "patriots," seek victory by blocking their path to the polls.

What a shame.