Voter ID laws energized liberal base in Pa

HARRISBURG, Pa.–The controversial legislation requiring photo identification to vote in Pennsylvania was never enforced at the polls Nov. 6, with a court order delaying its implementation until 2013. But the uproar that flared up over the issue clearly inflamed liberal organizations and political operations, with most sources Human Events talked to here concluding that it helped the turn out for Democrats in the Keystone State.

“The issue itself energized the left — no question about it,” Lowman Henry, president of the Pennsylvania Leadership Council, told us during his group’s post-election summit here, “but because the enforcement of the Voter ID law was delayed, we never got any benefits from it on November 6.”

Since the Republican-controlled legislature passed the controversial measure and it was signed into law by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, Henry said, “Voter ID became as much a rallying cry for the left as Obamacare was for the right. Liberal Democratic political clubs throughout Pennsylvania as well as many black pastors in major cities denounced it in no-uncertain-terms and clearly made a major cause out of turning out voters for the Democrats.”

Sources in Philadelphia told Human Events that the denunciations of the voter ID law were particularly spirited and widespread in their city. Local Republicans led by City Commissioner Al Schmidt (the lone GOP member of the three-member commission that oversees elections in Philadelphia) had made much of cases from the 2008 primary of voters cast under false names or by people who had not lived in the place listed on voter rolls for years.

“This infuriated the black clergy and local civic groups such as the Committee of Seventy, which resented all the charges of voter fraud going on in Philadelphia,” said one Philadelphia attorney who has long dealt with voter verification issues. “And even after the judge delayed implementation of the voter ID law, there were commercials being run reminding voters the law would be enforced next year. This just got the opponents more worked up.”

On Nov. 6, Barack Obama drew nearly 85 percent of the vote out of Philadelphia, with 59 election precincts reporting no votes for Mitt Romney. Lowman Henry believes that the turnout generated by anti-voter ID forces was key in the loss of at least one of the three state senate seats that flipped from Republican to Democrat throughout the state and helped Democrats comfortably win all three statewide offices on the ballot: auditor general, treasurer, and attorney general, along with booster Democratic Sen. Bob Casey to a victory over Republican Tom Smith.

“Tom just couldn’t overcome the big vote for Casey that came out of Philadelphia,” said Henry.

In 2013, voter ID will be enforced in Pennsylvania–but even before its enforcement, Republicans have seemingly paid a price for it at the polls in 2012.