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In a little-remembered moment during the 2010 campaign, Governor Tom Corbett told a gathering of suburban Republicans to “keep down” Philadelphia's Democratic voter turnout.
“We want to make sure that they don't get 50-percent [voter turnout],” he said, referring to Philadelphia Democrats. “Keep that down."
The item generated some news media attention at the time but has gone unmentioned during the current debate over the state's contentious new voter ID requirement, which could keep Democratic-leaning student, black, Latino, poor and elderly voters from the polls this November.
“It is extremely disturbing, but not surprising, that Tom Corbett is actively working to suppress the vote in Philadelphia,” State Democratic Chairman Jim Burn told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette two years ago.
Pennsylvania Republicans drew loads of unwanted attention to the law when House Majority leader Mike Turzai boasted in June that the law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
The law is currently being challenged in Commonwealth Court, and the ACLU and other rights groups intend to play the video of Turzai's speech at trial.
“Any doubt,” according to the plaintiff's pretrial brief, that the law is not about “ensuring political advantage through the exclusion of qualified voters who are perceived supporters of the opposition” was “dispelled when the House Majority leader, Mike Turzai, candidly boasted to his colleagues.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has also opened an investigation into whether the law violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
The new law requires voters to show ID at the polls (see the valid forms of ID here). But the state, which originally said that 99 percent of voters had valid ID, has absolutely no idea how many people might be impacted.
Yesterday, City Paper reported that up to 43 percent of Philadelphians may not have valid ID. And Corbett earlier this week expressed confusion about the law's requirements when questioned by a reporter.