by The Washington Post Editorial Board
ON WEDNESDAY, a Pennsylvania judge upheld the state's voter ID law, which requires residents to present photo identification at the polls. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters - especially minority voters - lack the type of ID the law demands.
Of all the Republican-backed voter ID laws proposed since 2010, Pennsylvania’s is the one with the most demonstrable partisan motivation. All of these laws are bound to have a disproportionate effect on the poor and minorities, groups that contributed to President Obama’s victory in 2008. In Pennsylvania, this partisan advantage was boastfully acknowledged by Mike Turzai, the state's House Republican leader: "Voter ID," he said in June, "which is going to allow Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania - done."
This unapologetically partisan legislation now has been legitimized in court. The result of Judge Robert Simpson's ruling will be the disenfranchisement of some voters, though how many is a matter that can still be affected. Although he condemned the partisan noise around the law as "disturbing" and "tendentious," Judge Simpson - echoing the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling on a similar case in Indiana - said these concerns had little to do with the substance of the law. "The Commonwealth’s asserted interest in protecting public confidence in elections," he wrote, "is a relevant and legitimate state interest sufficiently weighty to justify the burden." [Read more.]