This story is not going away.
Voter ID has been controversial from the beginning, as has House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s (R-Allegheny) comments regarding it.
The story (and the video) were picked up on the liberal blogosphere, then on TV news and in newspapers across the state and country. It didn’t take long for late-night comedian Stephen Colbert to pick up on it, and last week he was joined by Daily Show host Jon Stewart in a bit called “The Wizards of I.D.”
Last night – fueled by the decision handed down by Judge Robert Simpson regarding the law – Stewart decided to end his last broadcast (until the RNC and DNC conventions) by taking a jab at Turzai, the law and…Ted Nugent?
“We’ve got a presidential election coming up,” Stewart begins.
“America’s demographics have changed dramatically in the past few decades. And there’s two ways a political party can react to that. You can expand your appeal to a new field of voters by making their issues your issues as well, or…”
The clip cuts to a series of news reports discussing states where the legislatures have passed Voter ID laws, with pundits and news anchors showing graphs and explaining that such laws disproportionately affect Democratic voters – specifically minorities, the young, the old and the poor.
“The young, the old, the poor, minorities!” Stewart says. “The four Horsemen of the Democalapyse!” (A portmanteau of democracy and apocalypse).
This title inspires “The subject of tonight’s Democalpyse 2012: Cockblock the Vote edition,” he satires.
“As you know, and you well know this…in-person voter fraud is an enormous issue, with more than…exactly 10 documented cases of it in the entire country alone. Just since the beginning of the millennium. That’s .000000284 percent of all votes.” he says.
He then mentions the data: that some say the Voter ID law could impact over 758,000 registered voters (9 percent of the electorate, as Stewart points out) who currently do not have a photo ID.
“But that’s the price you pay to prevent something that doesn’t happen. It’s like how peanut butter is made with huge amounts of hydrochloric acid to dissolve any potential dragon bones that may have gotten into it during the manufacturing process,” he says.
“Will you lose some people who die by eating hydrochloric acid? Of course. But isn’t it worth knowing that your peanut butter is dragon-bone free?”
The comedian moves on to discuss Pennsylvania’s history – a state that has voted for Democratic presidents in the last five presidential election, and is leaning toward Obama now.
“It’s not like this voter ID law is blatantly designed to skew that result, right state house repub majority leader that designed it?” he asks.
Cue clip of Turzai.
Stewart mocked Turzai last week for the clip, but this time he instead takes a swing at the GOP presidential candidate himself and Judge Simpson.
“Lord knows we didn’t want Romney running on the strength of his personality or policies, am I right people? And I’m assuming that the judge in Pennsylvania who has been asked to review it will see it as a partisan effort?”
The show cuts away from Stewart to show an explanation of Judge Simpson’s reason for denying the injunction, that he believes it will be carried out in a “nonpartisan, even-handed matter.”
“Yes, of course, this law created for specifically partisan purposes, will be carried out in a nonpartisan, even-handed manner,” Stewart says, adding that maybe he’s being too harsh on the Republican-backed law, state administration and judge.
“…As long as voters are educated about the law in a nonpartisan way.”
The screen cuts to a shot of the liberal Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, where Maddow informs viewers that the firm who was given the contract to educate voters was given to given to Chris Bravacos, a man who Maddow says raised $30,000 for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Bravacos is also former state Republican Party executive director.
“Well, I guess that does explain the new Voter ID ad I saw in Pennsylvania,” Stewart says.
The commercial put together by The Daily Show is a mock advertisement for a concert coming to a Montgomery County amphitheater.
“What’s up, Pennsylvania? Guess who’s coming to the Montgomery County Amphitheatre. It’s the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent!”
The “commercial” is interrupted by a stocky white man in a suit saying, “Hey fellow Pennsylvania Republicans. Now that all the Democrats have changed the channel, here’s some important voting information. When you go to vote for Mitt Romney, bring photo identification. It’s required. Oh and don’t tell any blacks or old people.”
The “commercial” ends with a disclaimer that it’s “paid for by people who want Mitt Romney to win.”
The segment moves on to Ohio, and recent controversy there over early voting restrictions that some say disproportionately affects Democratic precincts.
“As ridiculous as this Voter ID business is…” Stewart says, before moving on to PA’s neighbor to the west.
GOP state spokesperson Valerie Caras said that what Stewart misses in his commentary is that a majority of people favor photo ID laws and see voter fraud as a problem.
“While we can all appreciate The Daily Show’s incisive wit, it’s unfortunate that the real facts get in the way of Jon Stewart’s good-natured ‘reporting.’ The continued partisan bickering by the Democrats over this issue simply distracts from the importance of joining with us in educating voters about this critical legislation,” she said.
“When elections are affected by voter fraud, voter mistakes and other real issues that occur within the voting process – the ‘will of the people’ is undermined. If anything The Daily Show, which prides itself on having the pulse of the people, should be advocating for the ‘will of the people’ not mocking it.”