HARRISBURG, June 26, 2012 — State Sen. Anthony H. Williams today denounced recent comments by a top Republican lawmaker on the state’s new voter ID law and noted that the efforts to challenge it are still ongoing.
Williams, the Democratic State Government Committee chair, joined colleagues in the state Senate and House today to respond to remarks that House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made on the voter ID law during a political event.
While supporters of the voter ID law claimed reduction of voter fraud was its driving force, Turzai said during a Republican State Committee meeting last weekend that the new law is going to “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
“Clearly, there is still a concerted effort to the suppress votes of certain segments of our population. I will not stand by as a lawmaker brags about the political implications of the law while individuals’ fundamental rights are stripped away,” said Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). “Rather, it has emboldened me to continue to fight the constitutionality of this law.”[hdvideo id=77 ]
Under the law, which Williams has opposed, anyone seeking to vote must present a designated form of identification every time they go to vote, starting with this November’s general election. Williams has argued that the requirements to gain acceptable ID pose hurdles that will prevent otherwise eligible citizens from voting.
Reported instances of in-person voter fraud for the past decade have been negligible, if nonexistent. That fact and Turzai’s comments further taint the law’s legitimacy, he said.
“This harkens back to an era when it was OK for categories of Americans to be denied the right to vote,” Williams said. “This isn’t about voter fraud. It’s about voter suppression and it’s about a full-fledged partisan effort to win elections. The Republicans are tearing down the Constitution for which they hypocritically stand.”
Williams and his state Senate Democratic colleagues plan to challenge the law in court. They are currently compiling information from the spring primary election and will be collecting data on an upcoming August special election with the intention of filing a lawsuit based on their findings.
“Yes, we’re Democrats but this is in the larger context of encouraging everyone to vote. If you’re in a democracy, you have a right to vote,” Williams said. “We are standing up for all Pennsylvanians, not just some segment of Pennsylvanians.”