When Alabama lawmakers passed the tougher voter ID laws in 2011, the Statehouse's Republican majority said they were needed in order to reduce voter fraud. Problem is over the past two decades, Alabama has seen no more than a handful or so of voter fraud convictions and nationally there have been only a few instances of in-person voter fraud - the sort a tough voter ID would hope to prevent.
Nursing home residents - many of whom no longer possess a driver's license or other form of picture ID, might have a problem voting under the state's new law. (A small aside: Since 2008 taxes on nursing home residents have doubled in Alabama. Seems like nursing home residents can't catch a break around here.)
Back to tougher voter ID laws. If in-person voter fraud is extremely rare, what's really the point?
Pennsylvania has been refreshingly honest on this question. In 2012, state attorney defending Pennsylvania's tough voter ID law fessed up to a court: "The Parties are not aware of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere. Respondents will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.".
That same year Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai promised the tougher law would help Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney win the state.
This week, Turzai got a qualified second on that statement. Robert Gleason, Pennsylvania's Republican Party chairman, told a TV interviewer that while Barack Obama won the state the voter ID cut into his margin of victory in 2012.
“Yeah, I think a little bit. We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by five percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won, he beat McCain by 10 percent, he only beat Romney by five percent. I think that probably voter ID helped a bit in that.”