And maybe the country.
As has been noted nationally, the estimated 750,000 voters who do not have state-issued IDs in Pennsylvania surpasses President Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. Given that many of the voters without ID are in poor and minority communities, Democrats assume the law will impact their turnout the most. And they’re not the only ones: the Republican leader of the state House, who helped shepherd the legislation onto the books, recently boasted that it will “allow” Mitt Romney win the Keystone State.
Democrats now have to make sure their voters know about the law, know if they comply, know how to get into compliance if they’re not — and do it all before Election Day. This could be a steep climb. TPM talked asked five Pennsylvania Democratic voters at Obama’s Pittsburgh rally Friday about their state’s voter ID law. Only one knew it existed.
“I heard about it in Florida but not here,” said Martin Hoberman, a voter from the Pittsburgh area.
Jim Burn, the state Democratic Party chair, says his forces are ready to integrate dealing with the voter ID law into their existing GOTV operations. But he acknowledged that he’s got another layer to contend with if that law remains in effect.
“Yes, many voters are not aware of it,” he said. “All the more responsibility on us that a.) they’re aware of it and b.) we give them what they need to get out and exercise their constitutional rights.”
How does he do that? There’s no list of record for voters who don’t have proper ID, so Democrats have to go about creating their own list of targets who fit the profile for lacking the identification based on geography, income and other means. Then they hit them with the voter ID messaging as part of standard field operations.
“When we’re going do to door, which we’re doing anyway to talk about A, B, C and D, we’re now talking about A, B, C, D and E,” Burn said.
He urged Democrats to keep calm and carry on.
“We’re taking it very seriously, but I don’t want voters to overreact to it,” he said. “If you don’t have what you need to vote and you’re not sure, reach out to us. And if you don’t reach out to us, don’t worry, we’re going to be coming to you anyway.”
More of that outreach is coming. But that's money, time, and effort that has to be spent rather than getting new voters into the booth in November. What I fear is that come November 8th, two news stories will be prevalent: Hundreds of thousands of minority voters turned away in voter ID states like Pennsylvania, and Republicans gaining control of the Senate and White House. One leads to the other.
And as far as Republicans are concerned, it's working as intended.