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The Voter ID ruling: Try again

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Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Gee, something was missing in the coverage of a Commonwealth Court ruling that Pennsylvania's law requiring all voters to produce a photo identification is “unconstitutional on its face.” Think about that for a moment as we detail the decision.

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal,” wrote Judge Bernard McGinley in an opinion released Friday. The judge additionally criticized the state's efforts to educate the public about the law.

“Certainly a vague concern about voter fraud does not rise to a level that justifies the burdens constructed here,” Judge McGinley added.

In short order, all of the usual suspects re-emerged to re-allege that the measure was an attempt by Republicans to suppress minority voting (a contention not supported in McGinley's ruling) and not, as they claimed, to bolster protection of the franchise.

So, what was that missing something? It's the fact that the lead plaintiff in the original case — Viviette Applewhite, 93, a black Philadelphia woman — had no trouble whatsoever obtaining her photo voter ID card in August 2012. Oh, the “burden.”

The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett can either appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court or the state Legislature can retool the legislation to address McGinley's concerns. But the bottom line is that voter ID should not be abandoned. For protecting the franchise benefits everyone.

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