State Rep. Kurt Masser broke with his Republican counterparts when he voted against legislation requiring all Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification before their vote can be counted.
Masser objected to tinkering with the elections process in the year of a presidential election. Changing the rules for such a potentially significant, contested and closely-watched election simply does not make sense.
Masser was right.
When the law was challenged, the state did not even argue there was any evidence the legislation would eliminate voter fraud. An in-depth investigation by a team funded by the Carnegie-Knight Foundation found that of more than 2,000 cases of voter fraud since 2000, only 10 incidents involved the sort of voter impersonation that would be prevented by photo ID requirements.
Those 10 incidents of voter impersonation represent 1 per 15 million votes.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center recently released a report showing that in a survey of 43 license centers, 30 percent of volunteers seeking voter ID were told that it would cost $13.50.
Say that again: 30 percent of people seeking voter identification are given the wrong information and asked to pay for the right to vote. It is worth remembering when one considers the ruling released this week by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson who refused to halt the voter ID rules before the election.
In his decision, Simpson said plaintiffs did not establish that "disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable." He added that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate the benefit of overturning the legislation outweighed the problems of halting the state's efforts to implement the voter ID rules in time for the election. Simpson dismissed eight different scenarios in which the state's plan for rolling out voter ID could lead to problems. Simpson then noted the look of horror on the face of a Department of State employee, when asked about the potential impact of halting the new rules, provided evidence that an injunction "would result in great injury."
It is better to inconvenience thousands, if not millions of would-be voters, than cause stress and anxiety to government workers.
The laughable logical contortions are necessary to avoid the bald truth of the matter. The legislation will disenfranchise voters that most Republicans would prefer to keep from the polls.
Masser had the wisdom and courage to stand up and say no. We only wish he had had more company.