The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 14, 2012

Court should delay voter ID rules

Daily Item

---- — Gov. Tom Corbett's comments when asked about a lawsuit now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court challenging the state's voter ID law echo sentiments made by state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver and Rep. Fred Keller earlier in the week.

"It makes sure that one person votes one time, and they are the person who they say they are," Corbett said. "I think it's a requirement. The people of Pennsylvania think it's a requirement."

Most people will have no problem with voter ID requirements.

But some will and no one knows how many people will be affected.

Meanwhile, the state Department of State has been feverishly working to make voting identification available to all who request it.

The state's strategy has evolved numerous times over the months as the rules are changed to try to accommodate would-be voters while satisfying the law's requirements about confirming identities.

Estimates suggest as many as 1 million Pennsylvanians may need voter ID.

A state comparison of PennDOT and voting records found that 758,000 people are registered to vote, but lack a driver's license. In the Valley, there are 8,700 people who are snared in that trap. But as recently as Sept. 7, the state had issued fewer than 60 voter identification cards in the region.

State officials maintain that the discrepancy indicates there is no problem, rather than providing evidence of thousands of people who would be disenfranchised by the new law.

But they do not know and they will not know until election day.

County poll workers may be handing out stacks of provisional ballots which will not be counted until the would-be voters cough up proof of who they say they are. Election inspectors who recognize voters as they walk in the door will have to insist on seeing state-approved identification.

It is simply no way to conduct an election, particularly when we are helping elect a new president.

The Supreme Court is occupied by three Republican and three Democratic justices after the suspension of Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican who faces criminal charges. A 3-3 tie would affirm the lower court's decision to let the law stand.

With the voter identification law's impact so uncertain, the Supreme Court ought to order that the law's implementation be delayed until after the presidential election. There are simply too many unanswered questions.