State should make voting convenient
Two years after signing a dreadful law that was designed to suppress voting by some of the state's most vulnerable citizens, Gov. Tom Corbett has accepted Judge Bernard McGinley's sound judgment that the Voter ID law is unconstitutional and illegal.
Mr. Corbett announced Wednesday that he will not appeal the decision. Nor will he and the legislative architects of the blindly partisan law try to resurrect it for the November election.
Pennsylvania's Voter ID law was part of a wave of such legislation in Republican-majority state legislatures. Some of those laws met constitutional muster. The Department of Justice signed off on Virginia's law after a required review under the Voting Rights Act, for example, because the government there ensured that every voter received the needed identification.
In Pennsylvania, even before testimony in court, Republican advocates inadvertently revealed the nefarious purpose of the statute. Rep. Mike Turzai, House Republican majority leader, told the Republican State Committee in 2012 that it would help ensure GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's victory in Pennsylvania. The law was a purely partisan exercise meant to suppress votes of older, young and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic and are most likely not to have the limited types of identification prescribed by the law.
As testimony in the court case demonstrated how tens of thousands of voters could be disenfranchised, and that the purported need to curb voter fraud was a non-existent problem, the administration back-pedaled.
Now, with the law itself identified by a toe tag, lawmakers should turn to true reform that can expand access to voting while ensuring the continuing integrity of the system.
The state should move to universal online registration. That not only would make it easier for people to become voters, but would eliminate duplicate registrations. When people move from one county to another and register to vote, their names temporarily are carried in both counties. That's not fraud; there's no evidence of people actually voting in multiple counties. But clean voter rolls are desirable and easy to achieve.
Pennsylvania also should adopt other reforms to make it easier to vote, rather than conjuring up new restrictions. Those should include same-day registration rather than closing registration a month ahead of the election.
Many other states use many techniques to make voting convenient. Pennsylvania, the cradle of American democracy, should start playing catch-up.