John Oliver had a strict no presidential election talk on “Last Week Tonight” policy in 2015 because it wasn’t even an election year yet. With the show returning Sunday (Feb. 14), it is now an election year, so he comes out swinging with a segment on voter ID laws.
Oliver details the ways the Supreme Court and roughly a dozen states have made it difficult for citizens to vote without identification. The lawmakers who support these measures always say it’s about integrity and protecting the American democratic system, but “studies have shown these restrictions tend to disproportionately impact African-American and Latino voters.”
Additionally, the incidents of actual voter impersonation are so few and far between that the voter ID laws are completely unnecessary — unless that’s not their actual purpose. As Oliver says, “These laws do actually tend to make a little more sense whenever you see someone slip up and suggest other reasons for why they may support them.”
He then rolls clips of Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Turzai encouraging the voter ID law because it will “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” and Pennsylvania Republican Party chair Robert Gleason saying that the voter ID laws gave them “a better election” in 2012 because “we cut Obama by five percent, which is big. He beat McCain by 10 percent, he only beat Romney by five percent. I think voter ID probably helped a bit in that.”
“You’re saying the thing that everyone knows, but you’re not supposed to say out loud!” Oliver shouts.
He then shows footage of state legislators — the ones who support voter ID laws to protect the integrity of elections — “literally competing to press other people’s voting buttons” in the state legislatures. It’s a process called “ghost voting” and it happens in state legislatures all over the country.
Oliver ends with, “I would like to propose something — any politician who has ever supported an unnecessary voter ID law should be forced to obtain a new ID every single time they want to pass a bill, just to make sure they are who they say they are. And yes, they might say, ‘Well John, that’s ridiculous. There’s no real reason to make us do that and it’s so cumbersome it could prevent us from engaging in the democratic process.’ To which I would say, ‘Welcome to the f***ing club.'”