July 26, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Harrisburg, Pa. — Even though the Voter ID law was not enforced for the 2012 general election, through a careful statistical analysis of the available data it was determined with a 99% degree of certainty that between 35,239 and 36,613 voters were disenfranchised due to confusion caused by the State's efforts to educate voters about photo ID requirements. The analysis is explained in detail in documents that are available from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.
When the Commonwealth Court finally enjoined the Voter ID law in October of 2012, many opponents of the law criticized the Court for failing to address the State's ongoing education efforts. The concern was that individuals would be led to believe that the Voter ID law was still in effect, and that confusion around the status of the law would cause many legitimate voters to stay home if they believed that they would not be allowed to vote. In fact, there were several reports of voters receiving mailers from the Department of State after the injunction was issued, which erroneously informed voters that they would not be allowed to vote without an approved photo ID.
"We have said all along that this law had nothing to do with preventing fraud," said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. "This law was always meant to confuse and intimidate legitimate voters, for the political advantage of the party who advocated for ID requirements. This analysis proves that even before being implemented, this law did exactly what its architects intended."
A video clip of Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason was widely circulated in which he boasted that the Voter ID law had "helped" Republican candidates in 2012, and had perhaps cut into President Obama's vote. Further analysis revealed that among voters disenfranchised in 2012, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by more than 2.5 to one.
"When a legitimate voter is prevented from exercising their right, or intimidated or misled into staying home because they believe their vote will not be counted, that is the real fraud associated with Voter ID," said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder. "One legitimate registered voter being prevented from exercising their right is enough of a reason to strike down or repeal this misguided law. Unfortunately, we can now point to more than 35,000 reasons."
Assurances were made throughout the debate and trial over Voter ID in 2012, that no one would be disenfranchised by this law. Now that it has been proven that those assurances were at best wishful thinking and at worst disingenuous, supporters of this law will need to find a way to justify their position. There is no justification for a law that is now known to disenfranchise legitimate voters.