State Treasurer candidate Diana Irey Vaughan may have stolen the show at the Republican State Committee meeting this past weekend, but that doesn’t mean other party members didn’t have anything to say.
In fact, one of them had a lot to say.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House’s end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically.
“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. It also struck a nerve among critics, who called it an admission that they passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote — and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed.
“Instead of working to create jobs and get our economy back on track, Mike Turzai and the Republicans in Harrisburg have been laser focused on a partisan agenda that simply helps their donors and political allies,” said PA Dems spokesman Mark Nicastre.
“Mike Turzai’s admission that Voter ID only serves the partisan interests of his party should be shocking, but unfortunately it isn’t. Democrats are focused on protecting Pennsylvanians’ rights to vote, and we are working hard to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote this fall.”
Turzai spokesman Stephen Miskin said voter fraud is a real problem.
“Do you remember ‘Joe Cheeseboro?’” he asked, reiterating that election fraud has occurred in PA and across the nation.
“Rep. Turzai was speaking at a partisan, political event. He was simply referencing, for the first time in a long while, the Republican Presidential candidate will be on a more even keel thanks to Voter ID…Anyone looking further into it has their own agenda.”
Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montco), one of the loudest critics of Voter ID, disagreed. He said that in order to justify the scope of the Voter ID law, and the hundreds of thousands of people who will be prevented from voting under its provisions, would require hundreds of Joe Cheeseboro cases.
“This is making clear to everyone what Voter ID was all about. This is about one thing: disenfranchising Democratic voters and rigging elections for Republicans,” Leach said. “When they get behind closed doors, they admit it. And that’s exactly what Turzai did.”
Will Voter ID actually make a difference for Romney? It’s highly unlikely. The closest any Republican has come to winning PA since 1988 was George W. Bush in 2004; he lost by 2.5 percent and 144,248 votes. That’s at least 144,000 higher than the number of voter fraud convictions in PA since 1988.