The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Opinion

May 11, 2014

OUR VIEW: Corbett makes right decision not to appeal Voter ID ruling

- — Whether it's for political gain or for good conscience, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett made the right decision. He won’t appeal the controversial Voter ID law ruling.

A story on page one of The Herald Friday told the tale of Corbett’s decision to abide by a judge’s ruling that the state’s law requiring photo identification at the polls is unconstitutional.

The ruling was handed down in January by a Commonwealth Court judge who said it imposed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that supporters showed no need for it.

As Corbett moves through his re-election year, the decision not to appeal could partly be to avoid continued controversy that would have inspired more Democrats to show up at the polls to bring about his ouster.

Regardless, the decision by the court was a correct one and it would have been a hard sell on appeal to a higher court that the law had credibility.

The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed the law two years ago that would require every voter to show a photo ID at the polls.

They maintained that it was a way to prevent voter fraud.

Others claimed it was an attempt to disenfranchise many minority voters, who normally voted along Democratic party lines.

Many inner city dwellers, for instance, may not have drivers’ licenses or other means for photo IDs.

The mandate brought about a lot of opposition, including groups such as the NAACP, AARP, labor unions and advocates for the poor.

While we have no problem that voters be properly identified at the polls when necessary, there has been no indication that photo IDs are needed to prevent fraud, as the L:egislature claimed was the reason for the law.

In fact, officials of the Corbett administration that had pushed for the law admitted they knew of no examples of voter impersonation.

Reportedly, in the last few elections there have only been two cases of voter fraud uncovered in the entire state – hardly a reason for major upheaval in voting laws.

What is irritating is the amount of money that went into trying to initiate this law. It cost about $6 million for advertising and almost $1 million for legal counsel.

Most surely the state could have found better ways to spend that kind of money.

If it ever comes to the forefront that voter fraud is on the rise, then maybe the state should revisit the need for photo IDs and the proper way to distribute them to voters in need.

But currently, it is best that the law dies and we move forward and assure that every eligible voter has a chance to have a say at the polls on election day.

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