Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Voter ID Ruling

After months of bitter battle, a state judge tosses the new voter ID law for this year's election; reaction is, well, interesting.

The Voter ID Ruling


So after millions of tax dollars are gone, after partisanship got amped up, after all the protests and after who knows how many folks were (probably in a good way) reminded of the value of the vote, the state's controversial voter ID law won't be in effect this election day.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, ruled Tuesday the new law simply can't be implemented in time to insure that at least some eligible voters would not be denied their voting rights.

The ruling leaves the law intact, just not for this election, which could mean further litigation.

But, as The New York Times notes, it is another in a string of losses for new and stricter Republican-backed voting rules, including in key states won by Obama in 2008 such as Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.

Reaction here among key supporters of the law was, well, interesting.

Gov. Corbett, who signed the law in March, was asked if he's disappointed in the ruling and said "it doesn't matter" if he's disappointed. He also suggested it's unlikely his administration will appeal: "No final decision has been made, but you can see which way we're probably leaning."

House GOP Leader Mike Turzai, who famously said the law would allow Romney to win the state, said, "Today’s decision by the Commonwealth Court upholds Act 18, and voter identification, and that is good."

Except, I assume, for that part about no longer allowing Romney to win the state.

Only the bill's sponsor and true believer held his ground, which is actually refreshing since so many pols seem to believe in (a) only what's covenient at the moment or (b) nothing.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, issued a blistering statement in which he labeled Judge Simpson's ruling a "judicial activist decision...skewed in favor of the lazy."

Metcalfe also said, "Simpson and the Corbett administration have chosen to openly enable and fully embrace the ever-increasing entitlement mentality of those individuals who have no problem living off the fruits of their neighbors’ labor."

So here are your choices: Metcalfe's right and the judge and the guv are wusses; the Legislature blindly and stupidly enacted a law impossible to implement in the time allowed; the Corbett administration was ham-handed and incompetent in trying to implement it.

Pick one or offer an alternative.

As for me (and really not to say I told you so), I wrote back in August, before Simpson initially upheld the law and its implementation, he should have then cut the baby in half and do exactly what he did this week.

Maybe I'll run for judge.

Daily News Political Columnist
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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
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