Friday, September 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Voter ID, will the GOP Justices give it a wink and a nod

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could be a dragon doing a duck impersonation. Will the PA Supremes call a dragon a duck.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments on the new Photo Voter ID law yesterday.  It is apparent that the three Democratic Justices (Seamus McCaffrey, Debra Todd, and Max Baer) all see the political motive behind this law. To paraphrase GOP House leader Mike Turzai, the new law will allow Romney to win Pennsylvania.

The question as we see it is whether the three GOP Justices (Ronald Castille, Michael Eakin, and Thomas Saylor) will see it that way, or will they hide behind the the technical and rigid preliminary injunction case law as Judge Robert Simpson did in the Commonwealth Court.

Buzz and I met with OVC legal expert former Judge Chamberlain Haller at his summer retreat in the Poconos. Haller had some interesting observations on the pending case before the PA Surpemes.

"I watched the argument on PCN yesterday and I saw a glimmer of hope for the opponents of this law," Haller said while enjoying an unfiltered Camel and contemplating his next chess move.  "Justice McCaffrey and Justice Todd were openly lobbying their Republican colleagues during the oral argument.  They kept saying, 'what's the rush?'  This was a clear indication that the Democratic Justices are offering a way out for their GOP colleagues."

"Generally Courts like to decide cases on the narrowest grounds possible, especially in controversial cases.  The 'what's the rush?' strategy would allow the Courts to grant a preliminary injunction without reaching the merits of the law.  They could kick the can down the road a bit and see what happens with photo ID efforts over the next six months," Haller said.

This brought a smile to our faces.  There may be a middle ground which stops the disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters.  Hope springs eternal.

It is undisputed that in-person voter fraud simply does not exist  in Pennsylvania, or for that matter, anywhere in the United States.  Study after study has shown that you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than someone voting in-person for someone else, and remember, that is the only thing that this new photo ID law is attempting to prevent.  

It won't stop absentee ballot fraud.  It won't stop voter registration fraud.  It won't stop election officials from tampering with election results.  And it won't stop the buying of votes.  The only thing it will stop is eligible voters without the proper ID from voting, and this includes many minority voters, many poor voters, and a whole bunch of older voters from casting ballots.

One of the major arguments that Buzz and I hear the most in support of a Photo ID requirement to vote goes like this:  "You need photo ID to buy beer, to cash a check, to buy Sudafed, or to get on an airplane."

Here's where that argument falls apart.  Underagers try to buy beer, criminals try to cash forged checks, Meth manufacturers try to buy Sudafed, and terrorists try to get on airplanes.  All of these actions have been documented time and time again.  That's why we require ID for these everyday interactions.  In-person voter fraud, on the other hand, is simply not a problem

A decision is expected within the next few weeks.  Let's hope the Court does the right thing and stops this clearly partisan and politically motivated law.


Anonymous said...

Well said, or should I say written, Norton. Give Judge Haller my best.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.