Justice Thomas Saylor of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asked some tough questions of the state's deputy attorney general who was arguing against a challenge to the state's new Voter ID Law.
Saylor, who was elected to the bench under the Republican banner, asked whether the state was able, in fact, to issue the required ID cards in light of federal guidelines for such cards; to which Deputy Attorney General John Knorr replied in the negative.
While Saylor's question addresses the logistics of the program and perhaps its constitutional Achilles heel, it also points out the slapdash, hurry-up process that greased the legislation to and through the governor's desk in time for this fall's general election.
The Republican-controlled legislature, you see, was on a mission succinctly characterized by Mike Turzai, the House Majority Leader, in a speech to the state Republican Party: "Voter ID which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done." And done on time, we might add.
Let's face it, there wasn't a lot of time to work out the details if you were going to pass a law "which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win" in November.
It was only after those pesky Democrats raised a legal fuss that the state began issuing voting-only photo IDs that require a less stringent test than those originally offered.
Saylor wasn't satisfied, calling the newer iteration of Voter ID, a "fallback" move. "You can't comply with the letter of the law. That's what you're saying, right?"
We'll give the governor's office credit for trying, but the basic problem is that the General Assembly rushed through the legislation without arming it with the necessary tools to implement it in a fashion that avoids a constitutional challenge.
If, indeed, voter fraud is now and has been for 200 years a significant problem in Pennsylvania, we wonder why the panic to shoot from the hip a few months before a presidential election, unless, of course, the goal was to get it "done" by Nov. 6.
We support a Voter ID law that is equipped with a carefully thought out process for guaranteeing that every person eligible to vote is able to do so. It's too bad the legislature didn't take the time to do that.