Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Voter-ID law fixes just lipstick on a pig

By again tinkering with Pennsylvania’s two-month-old voter-ID law, Gov. Corbett’s administration only makes it more obvious that the hastily imposed statute is as flawed as it is unwarranted.

Voter-ID law fixes just lipstick on a pig

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By again tinkering with Pennsylvania’s two-month-old voter-ID law, Gov. Corbett’s administration only makes it more obvious that the hastily imposed statute is as flawed as it is unwarranted.

Each time state officials relax requirements for voters to document their identity — as they did last week, for the second time — they call into question the paper-thin reasoning of Corbett and Republican legislators who say they supported the law to thwart a specific type of voter fraud that they could not prove.

The governor and his aides, including state elections chief Carol Aichele, insist that the requirement to show government-issued photo identification is needed to prevent what is a virtually nonexistent problem in the state — voter impersonation.

Yet there they were last week, announcing that the state would waive the mandate that voters must present a birth certificate when applying for a nondriver state ID card to comply with the voter-ID rules.

Won’t that just make it easier for their supposed legion of phantom vote-fraud perpetrators to do their dirty work?

Of course, what’s happening in the face of a convincing legal challenge by 10 voters, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups, over the constitutionality of the law is that the governor is trying to make the voter-ID mandate appear less onerous.

Think of it, though, as putting lipstick on a pig — no offense to our farmyard friend.

It doesn’t much matter that the state is loosening the guidelines for getting the proper papers, or that the state Department of Transportation is promising to process nondriver IDs in only 10 days, rather than the months-long wait seen in some cases.

The fact remains that voter-ID rules target the fundamental rights of young, minority, and elderly residents, especially in urban areas like Philadelphia, where — surprise, surprise — Democrats expect to pull millions of votes for President Obama in the fall.

In one GOP-run state after another where voter-ID laws are on tap as part of a national political push, the constant is that there is no evidence of the type of fraud that would warrant such extreme measures.

Since it appears that Corbett and company will continue to tie themselves in knots in a losing bid to spin an unreasonable set of restrictions on Pennsylvanians’ franchise, it’s up to Commonwealth Court to prevent an electoral injustice.

Without question, the voter-ID rules, given a test run in the May primary election, should not be allowed to take full effect for November’s balloting as scheduled.

In response to the court challenge, Republicans instead are seeking to slow down the legal review. But as state Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D., Philadelphia) noted last week, it was GOP lawmakers who engaged in a “hastily implemented, poorly designed” voter-ID law that’s now prompting them to attempt repairs.

There’s no fixing what state House Democrats have described in supporting the lawsuit as a “thinly-veiled attempt to suppress voter turnout.”

Voter ID must be scrapped.

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