Back on HBO to begin his third season Sunday night, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver passed on taking shots at Donald Trump, instead focusing 15 minutes of his show on voter ID laws.
Oliver’s segment highlighted 68-year-old PA resident Doris Clark, who had three voter ID applications turned down by the state, before eventually getting proper identification to cast her ballot.
Clark, who does not have a driver’s license, was made to present her original birth certificate, original Social Security card and even her husband’s death certificate to validate her married name.
“Why am I going through these things? I’m not bin Laden’s wife,” Clark said in the clip.
After showing several GOP lawmakers effusing the “common sense” of voter ID laws, Oliver points out that the laws are only aimed at stopping voter impersonation, a “pretty stupid crime.”
“You have to stand in line at a polling place and risk five years in prison and a $10,000 fine all to cast one probably-not-consequential extra vote,” Oliver said. “In terms of pointless crimes, it’s right up there with forging a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon. It’s a lot of trouble with low reward.”
Oliver then uses the words of House Speaker Mike Turzai and PA Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason to argue the laws have a darker intention.
Before voter ID laws in the state were struck down in January 2014, Turzai was a staunch supporter of the fraud-reducing measures, though he may have gotten too loose with his words, letting the secret slip at a Republican State Committee meeting in June 2012.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done,” Turzai told his fellow Republicans. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
In an interview with PCN after the 2012 elections, Chairman Gleason admitted voter ID laws helped Romney halve President Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain in 2008.
“We probably had a better election,” Gleason said in the interview. “Think about this, we cut Obama by about 5%, which was big — a lot of people lost sight of that. He beat McCain by 10%. He only beat Romney by 5%. I think that photo ID helped a bit in that.”
PA is now one of just 17 states that do not require any form of identification to vote.