OUT & ABOUT: When Will Vote-Suppressors Give Up?

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JUDGE Bernard McGinley on voter photo ID: enough already!

JUDGE Bernard McGinley on voter photo ID: enough already!

BY DENISE CLAY/ Sure, most of us were paying attention to the self-inflicted travails of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling due to the release of a tape made by the jump-off his wife was suing….

(Editor’s note: For those of you who don’t know what a jump-off is, it’s a side-chick. The other woman. The girl you don’t want your wife to know about. Or if you’re a woman, the guy you don’t want your husband to know about.)

But on Tuesday, the day National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver did the equivalent of an in-your-face slam dunk on Sterling in the form of a lifetime ban, a $2.5 million fine, and a request of his fellow owners to make him sell the team, a federal judge in Wisconsin and Commonwealth Court Judge here in Pennsylvania did the same to each state’s voter ID laws.

US District Judge Lynn Adelman agreed with opponents of the law who said that it adversely impacted minority and low-income voters because they don’t have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them. Adelman also said that since the law violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, and had more than a few other flaws, no amount of legislative fixing would make it okay.

According to news reports, this ruling could impact voter ID laws passed in 31 other states, including Pennsylvania.

Which brings us to the decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley on Tuesday regarding Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law.

The Commonwealth, led by Gov. Tom Corbett, appealed McGinley’s decision to strike down the voter-ID law in January due to its failure to provide alternative identification options for voters, thus disenfranchising many of them.

McGinley, in a 29-page decision, said that as far as he was concerned, the January decision was his final answer. The law had been on hold for the last two years and wasn’t due to go into effect for the 2014 elections.

Voter-ID laws were all the rage in Republican-controlled legislatures following the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. The perception on the part of voting-rights advocates was that the whole idea behind these laws was to make sure students, people of color, and older Americans, folks who might vote Democratic, were kept from the polls.

But proponents of these laws cited their desire to combat voter fraud as a motivation for getting this legislation passed. Now, there’s not a whole lot of voter fraud because getting people to the polls in the first place is a challenge, but the perception appeared to be that the only reason why we had a President Obama was because someone cheated.

These laws have been taking it on the chin of late, however. In addition to the defeats in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the Arkansas voter-ID law, which was even tougher, was struck down in a state court.

But while voting-rights advocates have been in the winner’s circle, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Gov. Corbett have promised to appeal. In fact, Gov. Walker has promised to call a special session to get a new voter-ID law passed.

I love it when people stick to their guns on things, but this stubbornness is becoming expensive. When you have states that can’t do little things like provide the minimum for their schools and pay their teachers what they deserve, create jobs, or fix potholes, spending money on lawyers to keep people from committing the voter fraud that all of your statistics show isn’t happening is kind of wasteful.

Then again, you pay for what you think is important.

Too bad what you feel is important is voter suppression.

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