Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down

A judge in Pennsylvania
Did his utmost to explain: “Ya
Gotta let the people vote—and make it easy!”
He said “Voting’s fundamental!”
And the message that he sent’ll
Go a ways to fix a process that’s, well, sleazy.
Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley
Found the state’s case spread too thinly
And the “voter fraud” more mythical than real;
Ruled in favor of the plaintiff,
Might become the voters’ saint, if
His decision isn’t scuttled on appeal.
His opinion was well reasoned,
Any thoughtful reader sees, and
You can bet your bottom dollar they’ll appeal

It’s another decision worth reading–not because it is as beautiful a smackdown as the recent same-sex marriage decisions, but because it is just so damned thorough. I especially liked the examination of different sorts of acceptable forms of ID (noting, for instance, that the requirement of an expiration date on an ID has absolutely nothing to do with whether that ID can actually verify a voter’s identity), with the conclusion that (my paraphrase) the only common factor was that they added additional hoops to jump through, barriers (to mix metaphors) between potential voters and the ballot box.

The judge also noted the history of misinformation on the part of the state, with official letters to potential voters telling them one (untrue) thing, but no official retractions, no official correct information, only uncredited TV or radio ads (without the authority of the government behind them) telling people the correct information.

Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election. The voter ID law does not further this goal.

Of course, comment threads are full of people who clearly have not read the decision, and who have drunk the kool-aid of voter fraud hysteria. Some of the comments can be directly countered on Snopes, they are so popular; others are anecdotal accounts of one or two alleged incidents. The real (and evidenced) threat to democracy, though, was in a voter ID law that would have disenfranchised perhaps half a million eligible voters, systematically members of particular minority groups. The patriotic rhetoric of the complainers does not match the reality of who (in this case, Pennsylvania’s Republicans) are really out to commit fraud.

(oh… given that the actual decision is over 100 pages of judge-speak, you might want the NY Times coverage instead. But I do recommend the ruling itself.)


  1. Randomfactor says

    “Voter ID laws, a solution in search of a problem.”

    “A solution in search of a problem it can create.”

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