Ruling a victory for voters rights

This week’s ruling by a Pennsylvania judge that blocked that state’s voter identification law for this fall’s presidential election was another victory for basic democratic rights.

Courts have denied similar stringent voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Texas this year, after a nationwide GOP campaign for restrictions that would prevent citizens most likely to support President Barack Obama from voting.

In the Pennsylvania case, the court did not rule that the voter ID law was illegal or unconstitutional. He ruled that the state has not done enough to ensure that everyone who qualified for either a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or a government-employee identification could get it in time to vote on Nov. 6.

That the law was rushed in Pennsylvania and designed to target traditional Democratic voters – minorities, and the poor, young or disabled – was confirmed by the now-famous quote from Mike Turzai, that state’s House Majority Leader, who said the voter ID legislation “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Such partisan tricks at the ballot box have no place in modern America.

The United States turned the page on voter discrimination with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibited practices that had kept African-Americans from exercising a basic tenant of democracy.

Critics of the voter ID laws enacted or attempted in more than a dozen states since Obama was elected in 2008 compare them with Jim Crow laws common in primarily southern states.

The U.S. Supreme Court may decide to hear appeals during its upcoming term that would invalidate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. An unfavorable ruling from this conservative court would be a blow to civil rights in America.

Washington state is fortunate to require vote-by-mail in all 39 counties, making any similar attempt at discriminatory voting laws here a moot point.