Months ago, when Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law was being bandied about in the legislature, members of Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration went out of their way to assure voters that the measure had the purest of intentions: eliminating voter fraud. (Never mind the fact that only a handful of cases of actual voter fraud have ever been documented.)
Not only was Voter ID good for the election process, they argued, but also compliance with the law wouldn’t be much of an inconvenience to voters. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele told lawmakers at the time that 99 percent of the state’s voters already had the necessary identification.
Over the past few weeks, the thin web of shameless lies surrounding the Voter ID law has begun to unravel.
Late in the afternoon on July 3, just before the July 4th holiday, Aichele’s department issued a press release disclosing the results of a computerized match between PennDOT’s databases and a database of registered voters—doubtless hoping that information would be lost in the news cycle.
It showed 758,000 Pennsylvania voters, roughly 9 percent—did not have PennDOT-issued ID, either a driver’s license or a non-driver photo ID. In Philadelphia, the numbers were twice as bad, with 18 percent of registered voters not having the necessary identification to cast their ballots in November. That’s a far cry from her previous 99 percent lie, which is why Secretary Aichele has not commented publicly since issuing the release.
Six organizations, the Committee of Seventy, the League of Women Voters, the state ACLU, the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, The Advancement Project, and Pennsylvania Common Cause petitioned Corbett on July 6, in light of the new numbers, to delay enacting the Voter ID law for a year.
Corbett’s office issued an immediate refusal.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai let the cat out of the bag a few weeks ago, when he bragged to GOP allies, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania—done.”
Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law has a lot less to do with stopping voter fraud than it does stopping President Barack Obama from winning a second term. And the law’s Republican supporters are perfectly happy to deny hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians their constitutional right to vote in order to achieve that goal.