Eugene Robinson’s WaPo column, “The GOP’s crime against voters” spotlights voter suppression in Pennsylvania with a revelation that ought to provoke outrage among citizens who believe that access to the ballot should be protected by elected officials across the political spectrum:
Late last month, the majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mike Turzai, was addressing a meeting of the Republican State Committee. He must have felt at ease among friends because he spoke a bit too frankly.
Ticking off a list of recent accomplishments by the GOP-controlled Legislature, he mentioned the new law forcing voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Said Turzai, with more than a hint of triumph: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.”
That’s not even slightly ambiguous. The Democratic presidential candidate has won Pennsylvania in every election since 1992. But now the top Republican in the Pennsylvania House is boasting that, because of the new voter ID law, Mitt Romney will defy history and capture the state’s 20 electoral votes in November.
There have been similar Republican slip-up boasts in other states over the last year or two, you may have read about. It seems it’s not enough for Republicans to suppress the voting rights of their fellow citizens. They like to brag about it.
The worst part is that Turzai’s prediction may be right. As Robinson explains of PA:
…It turns out that 758,939 registered Pennsylvania voters do not have the most easily obtained and widely used photo ID, a state driver’s license. That’s an incredible 9.2 percent of the registered electorate.
Most of the voters without driver’s licenses live in urban areas — which just happen to be places where poor people and minorities tend to live. More than 185,000 of these voters without licenses, about one-fourth of the total, live in Philadelphia — which just happens to be a Democratic stronghold where African Americans are a plurality.
Robinson goes on to show that voter fraud is close to non-existent, noting that “an extensive, nationwide, five-year probe of voter fraud” resulted in the conviction of “a grand total of 86 individuals,” and most of those cases were about felons or immigrants who may not have known they were ineligible to vote. It’s not like the Republicans don’t know this. Robinson adds that “Pennsylvania and other voter ID states have, in essence, passed laws that will be highly effective in eradicating unicorns.”
One wonders how alert swing voters and even Republican voters of conscience who value voting rights as a cornerstone of democracy are processing the increasing revelations about the GOP voter suppression campaign. It would be a great day for democracy if large numbers of them register their protest at the ballot box on November 6, in agreement with Robinson’s understanding:
…The Republican-led crusade for voter ID laws has been revealed as a cynical ploy to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as possible, with poor people and minorities the main targets…Recent developments in Pennsylvania — one of more than a dozen states where voting rights are under siege — should be enough to erase any lingering doubt: The GOP is trying to pull off an unconscionable crime.
It’s possible to be a conservative and still take principled stand that voting rights for all citizens, not just Republicans, must be protected and those who obstruct voting rights for any citizen must be penalized. The hope is that the general election will show that there is broader outrage about voter suppression than is now apparent.