Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

DN Editorial: Let it be, Guv

THE WORDING was polite but the message was clear. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wrote Gov. Corbett last week urging him to give up trying to implement the state's Voter ID Law.

THE WORDING was polite but the message was clear.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wrote Gov. Corbett last week urging him to give up trying to implement the state's Voter ID Law.

This dog of a law, first passed in 2012, has never fully taken effect, mostly due to court challenges to its strict requirements that voters show a photo ID before being allowed to vote.

In January, Commonwealth Judge Bernard McGinley ruled the law unconstitutional, saying that it could deny the right to vote to several hundred thousand Pennsylvania who did not have access to the approved IDs.

The state asked McGinley to reconsider his decision. He declined last week. Now, the state has until May 30 to appeal his decision to the state Supreme Court.

Casey's message to the governor was: Let it be. Don't appeal the decision to the state's highest court. Appealing, Casey said, would cast "a cloud of uncertainty" over residents who are concerned that the law will prevent them from voting.

The governor should listen to Casey's advice.

The law was poorly conceived, poorly implemented and born of a partisan desire to tamp down voter turnout, especially among the poor, the elderly and minority voters - exactly the people least likely to have a driver's license.

The Republicans who passed the law no doubt had big-city Democrats as their target. It turned out, though, that their net entrapped nearly a half million Pennsylvanians, including many who lived in rural - and usually Republican - counties in the state, sending them to PennDOT offices miles away to try to get an approved "nondriver's photo ID" required by the law.

Millions of state dollars were wasted on this effort. The attempts by PennDOT and the Department of State to implement became a comedy of errors, except it wasn't funny at all to the voters who stood in line only to be told that they did not bring the necessary papers. In the end, only 17,000 official and approved IDs were issued - a pathetically small number considering the combined efforts of two state bureaucracies.

All this for what? As McGinley said, the law seemed designed to fix a problem that did not exist. There are few recorded cases of voter impersonation - in fact, the state, in defending the law, could not come up with any. A "vague concern" about fraud is not enough to justify the burdens imposed by the law, the judge said.

Casey and Corbett are members of opposite parties, but the senior senator has never been overly partisan. He ended his letter by thanking Corbett for "your time and attention to my concerns."

Maybe he was too polite. Voting is a fundamental right of a democracy. For the state to erect barriers - without any compelling reasons - is a travesty. Denying people the right to vote in the name of partisan gain poisons the goal of having free and fair elections.

Appealing the McGinley ruling with the goal of getting the state's high court to clear the way to implementing the law does nothing but further the travesty.

The evidence is clear: This law will do nothing to stop fraud, but it will prevent people from exercising their right to vote.

Gov. Corbett, listen to Sen. Casey. Let it be.