The chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party told an interviewer last week that the state’s voter ID law helped the GOP during the 2012 Presidential election.
Rob Gleason is now fending off allegations that the law’s real aim is suppressing Democratic voters.
“A mountain out of a mole hill,” is how Gleason describes the fallout after his comments on Pennsylvania Cable News, in response to a question on whether all the attention drawn to voter ID affected last year’s elections. “Yeah, I think a little bit,” he said on that video. “We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by five percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won, he beat McCain by ten percent, he only beat Romney by five percent. I think that probably voter ID helped a bit in that.” Gleason’s remarks have gotten nationwide attention, with commentators comparing them to comments by House Republican leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) last year that voter ID would help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania courts put a hold on the voter ID requirement until after the presidential election. Nevertheless, Gleason clarified by phone that he believed, “the ball had already been rolling and I think a lot of people — both Republicans and Democrats — were confused about voter ID. And I just thought it affected the turnout.” Turnout was down around the country in 2012. Obama lost a little more ground in Pennsylvania than he did nationwide. But in Philadelphia, where opponents say demographics show there are more people who don’t have a photo ID, Obama won by a bigger margin than in 2008. The legal challenge to the law is back in court this week.