Over the weekend, Pennsylvania residents began receiving a glossy postcard telling them, “If you want to vote, show it.”
Ironically, the postcard gets to the heart of the voter ID controversy because it shows a picture of a driver’s license, the most common acceptable photo ID for voting. But the voters most likely to be disenfranchised by the new law don’t have licenses.
They are too old and poor to drive. They are young people who don’t own cars. A disproportionate number are minorities who live in the city.
Many non-driving voters who have tried to get acceptable photo IDs at state Department of Transportation centers are so frustrated they may not vote at all.
Time is running out, and regrettably, the courts aren’t helping.
Last week, the state Supreme Court passed on a chance to uphold voters’ right to a “free and equal election” when it sent a challenge of the voter-ID law back to Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr.
Simpson had earlier ruled the law valid, in part based on testimony by state officials who said no voter would be disenfranchised. But fewer than 9,500 voter IDs have been issued by the state, while estimates of those without the right ID to vote range to up to 100 times that number.
Simpson has until Oct. 2 to act. He should reverse his earlier opinion that the state could ensure the implementation of this unrealistic and unfair law in time for the Nov. 6 election.
The judge should grant an injunction to prevent the confusion now from becoming chaos when legitimate voters are turned away at the polls.