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July 18, 2013

Voter ID ado aided GOP, Gleason says

JOHNSTOWN — Robert Gleason, chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, recently suggested the attention given to the state’s voter identification law benefited his party in 2012.

In an interview with Pennsylvania Cable Network, Gleason, a Cambria County resident, was asked: “Do you think all the attention drawn to voter ID affected last year’s elections?”

He responded by saying, “Yeah, I think a little bit. We probably had a better election. Think about this: We cut (President Barack) Obama by 5 percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won. He beat (2008 GOP presidential candidate John) McCain by 10 percent, he only beat (2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt) Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably photo ID helped a bit in that.”New voter identification requirements were passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2012. The law, which has not been implemented because of legal challenges, requires citizens to show a valid form of photo identification in order to vote.

Supporters feel the law will help ensure fair elections. Opponents, including many Democratic officials, believe the guidelines are an attempt by the Republican Party to suppress turnout among the elderly, students, lower-income individuals and minorities.

“Chairman Gleason’s comments only reaffirmed what we already knew,” said Jim Burn, the Democratic Party’s state chairman. “The Republicans’ decision to pursue the voter ID legislation was purely political and its only intent was to help Republicans at the ballot box.”

Katie McGinty, a 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, added, “Rob Gleason’s comment shows that the sole motivation behind the Republican push for the voter ID law is to win elections regardless of how many Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised.”

The state Republican Party offered a response through spokeswoman Valerie Caras.

“As the chairman has pointed out numerous times since the election, there were many reasons we were able to cut the president’s margins in half: President Obama’s failed policies, his opposition to real reform, the hard work of thousands of grassroots volunteers, and many others,” said Caras.

“We heard from many Republican, Democrat and independent voters who were upset that their votes could have been canceled out by voter fraud for years – fraud that we know is real. Those voters brought out their friends and neighbors to vote for Mitt Romney.

“It also should be noted that the Democrats created a manufactured hysteria at every turn that may have kept some of their own voters at home because of their relentless disinformation campaign. Contrary to the distortions Democrats have been and are continuing to push, the simple fact is that photo ID laws were not in effect in the 2012 election, but the debate in the state Legislature, the news coverage and public information campaign could have an impact on the voter in the same way as other issues do.”

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