Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson made the right decision on Tuesday, holding in abeyance the state's voter ID bill until after the presidential election.
His court was not called upon to decide the constitutionality of the law, but whether the law could be constitutionally put into effect in time for the Nov. 6 election. Following significant testimony that it could not, Simpson concluded the obvious.
Although we, and apparently virtually everyone else who has searched, can find no significant voter fraud that the ID bill would prevent, we are not opposed to a voter ID requirement. We do, however, believe that the virtual panic that led to the General Assembly's passage of the law with little regard to its implementation ruined the stew.
The state now has many more months to try different things to remedy the Achilles heel of the ID law, rather than throw ideas at a wall and see if any stick.
It even gave Mike Turzai, the House Republican leader whose brag before a group of party faithful that the law would "allow Mitt Romney to win in Pennsylvania" exposed the political motives of the bill, an opportunity to spin the ruling within hours of its release: "Voter Identification is about ensuring the integrity of our elections and preserving the principle of the 'One person, One vote' doctrine." It was somehow ironic, coming from the same man who confirmed the opposition's contention that the bill's impetus was swaying the immediate balloting.
Gov. Tom Corbett, who helped champion the law, was subdued, suggesting only that lawyers would be studying the ruling.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalf, R-Butler, the prime sponsor and architect of the voter ID bill, fulminated: "Rather than making a ruling based on the constitution and the law, this judicial activist decision is skewed in favor of the lazy."
A final bit of irony is the notion that the effort to limit voting may have produced a backlash in which organizations representing minorities, the elderly, and others less likely to already possess ID, have ramped up registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.
There is an inclination in human nature that when someone tells you you can't do something, you try harder to do it.