Mike Turzai spoke too soon.

"Voter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania --done," the House majority leader bragged to a Republican State Committee last summer.

Turns out it wasn't, and it didn't.

We did appreciate Turzai's frankness, though, if nothing else.

At least he dropped the phantom menace of in-person voter fraud -- the only kind a voter ID law would prevent and which even the state's attorney admitted doesn't exist -- and admitted what this was all about.

Since in-person voter fraud doesn't exist, the only way such a law would have "allowed" a Republican nominee to win Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988 would have been by disenfranchising Democratic voters.

Luckily, a Commonwealth Court judge didn't allow that to happen in Tuesday's election.

But while granting a temporary injunction against the law's most onerous provision -- requiring voters to produce a state-approved photo ID -- Judge Robert Simpson ruled there was nothing wrong with poll workers asking for identification.

Not surprisingly, Gov. Tom Corbett's administration ordered them to do just that.

No one actually had to produce a photo ID to vote; the Republicans just thought they ought to ask.

And that in itself caused headaches at the polls.


"There's definitely confusion," Nikki Suchanic, director of York County's elections and voter registration, said on Election Day. "Our people (poll workers) are required to ask everybody for ID. That's a state mandate. But voters don't have to show ID unless they are voting for the first time ever or have moved and are new to a polling place."

The emphasis is ours.

Everyone needs to understand that's always been the law: When people register to vote for the first time, or vote for the first time in a new precinct, they must prove who they are.

And it's the main reason this voter ID law is unnecessary. The law doesn't prevent voter fraud; it merely throws another hurdle in front of people who have already established their right to vote.

Not surprisingly -- considering the mess the voter ID law proved to be -- some new voters apparently confused existing law with the GOP's attempt to disenfranchise them and refused to show identification in cases where they actually needed to.

What's the big deal? some people say -- you need a photo ID to drive a car, buy alcohol, cash a check or board a plane.

The big deal, as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson pointed out, is that unlike those tasks, "voting is a constitutionally protected right. To infringe or abridge that right -- for no demonstrable reason -- should be considered a crime against democracy."

The court battle over Pennsylvania's voter ID law is ongoing, and a hearing on a permanent injunction is expected next. Hopefully, a judge agrees with Robinson.

Better yet, perhaps the Republicans, having failed to deliver their state to Romney, will decide to drop this sham altogether.