By Michael Smerconish
Let me finish tonight with this.
They say all politics is local. For me, the ongoing debate between ballot integrity vs. voter suppression, certainly is.
Like Chris, I am from Philadelphia. He's from the City, I'm from the 'burbs. If Pennsylvania is a battleground state, I live at the front, which is why I can tell you that the ramifications of a new voter ID law on my turf will have national implications.
The new law in Pennsylvania mandates that voters produce a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued photo ID. When the folks who run elections in Pennsylvania recently compared driver and voter records, they found that 758,939 voters were not on the driver's license lists.
It is possible that some of those individuals have the alternative form of acceptable ID. They include: an ID from an accredited Pennsylvania college or university, state care facility, military ID, valid US passport, or other photo identification issued by the federal or Pennsylvania government or employee ID issued by the federal, state, county, or municipal government.
But for most voters, the driver's license is the standard ID.
It is also possible that the results were skewed by individuals who registered to vote with names slightly different than appear on their licenses.
But where it was revealed that 9.2% of the state's 8.2 million voters don't have the photo ID cards from the state Transportation Department, it is cause for alarm. It certainly casts doubt on prior assertions by the Secretary of the Commonwealth that 99% of voters already have the ID they require.
In Bucks County, where I was born and raised, 6% lack a driver's license or the state issued non driver's license. Republican David Heckler is the District Attorney since 2010, and that year there was a single case of voter fraud.
In Montgomery County, where I live now, the number is 8.5%. Republican Risa Ferman has been the District Attorney since 2007, and there have been no voter fraud prosecutions on her watch.
In Chris' hometown, 18% of city residents don't have the PennDot ID. Democrats outnumber Republicans 6:1 in the city. Democrat Seth Williams has been the District Attorney since 2010. There have been no voter fraud prosecutions on his watch, nor for at least the last decade.
So it's not as if there is a crisis demanding a new law.
Who are those with their voting rights threatened? They are disproportionately poor and minority — not exactly the prototypical Romney voters. No wonder that, at a GOP state leadership meeting, the House Republican leader recently said, "Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done."
A court challenge is scheduled to be heard in two weeks. In an editorial yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer correctly noted:
"What a treacherous irony it would be if the presidential election was stolen — not by virtually nonexistent voter fraud — but as a result of voter ID being allowed to stand."