Sunday, April 19, 2015

Unchanged Melody

The song of one man, one vote is still number one on the GOP music chart, and it's singer is standing his ground.

Unchanged Melody

As state Republican House Leader Mike Turzai's name continues to spread across the political landscape, the controversy over voter ID and questions about its actual impact, one thing is clear: he is not changing his tune.

No matter what he was asked Wednesday during an impromptu press conference in the state Capitol newsroom, he stuck to the lyric of the law, saing it's about protecting the principle of "one man, one vote" and "the integrity of each and every valid vote."

He sang this chorus when asked if maybe he should not have offered (or differently phrased) his now-famous assertion that passing the law will "allow" Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania and that it was part of the GOP legislative agenda that can be labeled as "done."

He stuck to the refrain when asked, since there's no evidence of fraud offered in Pennsylvania or nationally, whether Republicans should have offered the law here and in other states as a natural, common-sense move in an ID-conscious country.

He could not be moved.

I wanted to ask if, since "the integrity of each and every" vote is the intent of the law, if he worries that its requirements put ANY, even one, valid vote at risk, but I knew his tune would not change, nor allow discordant notes.

Give him credit for staying on message, refusing to budge even as his name is knocked around.

He drew special mention in Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision upholding the law. Simpson called Turzai's statement tying the law to Romney's chances of winning the state "disturbing" and "boastful."

Turzai also was named in Thursday's New York Times editorial on the ruling. The Times said he "was simply indiscreet; most Republicans know better than to speak the truth out loud."

But the truth can be elusive. It appears the truth in this case is no one, including the state, has any idea of the law's real impact on voters or on the Novemeber election.

It is unclear whether participation will be tamped down because some number of eligible voters will--by decision, circumstance or lack of information -- end up not complying with the law, or whether active efforts on behalf of partisan groups, civic organizations and the government lead to increased voting.

All that is clear on the day after the decision is that the law's principal promoter is offering an aria that's an unchanged melody.

Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on
Stay Connected