Pennsylvania House Passes Voter Identification Law

Republican Governor Tom Corbett promises to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. From the Associated Press:

Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has approved a measure to establish 1 of the nation's toughest photo identification laws for voters less than eight months before the presidential election.

Really, in this lede, we get the whole picture. No description of the voter fraud plague this bill is supposed to combat. No mention of the crisis in confidence among the electorate--where, in the 2010 midterms, national turnout was 41 percent--who no longer believe in the ability of our electoral institutions. What is mentioned says it all: the bill's timing.

This unfortunate news follows several more positive developments on the voting rights front. On Monday, the Department of Justice denied preclearance of a Texas photo identification law because the state’s own data showed it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible, registered Hispanic voters. Texas is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that the state cannot make changes to their voting laws that have a disproportionate impact on minority voters without having it federally cleared. The law is on the books specifically so that jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory election practices cannot suppress minority voting rights. The Department of Justice, as it did in South Carolina at the end of last year, is doing its job by enforcing the law.