Days before a judge began hearing a challenge to Pennsylvania's GOP-crafted voter ID law last week, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele issued a news release apparently intended to eliminate concerns the law would disenfranchise about three-quarters of a million residents.
That's the number of people who lack a state Department of Transportation-issued driver's license or non-driver photo ID card, state officials now acknowledge, after first signiificantly underestimating the figure.
Civil liberty groups are suing to block the 4-month-old law from taking effect for the November election, arguing it's an unneccesary and partisan effort to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to cast ballots.
Republicans claim the law, one of the toughest in the country, is needed to protect the electoral process from voter fraud. However, the state's lawyers acknowledged before the court case even began Wednesday that they "are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud" and wouldn't be arguing that point.
Which leaves election rigging.
House majority leader Mike Turzai admitted as much last month during a Republican State Committee meeting.
Rattling off his party's "accomplishments" while in complete control of state government, he said this: "Voter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
It doesn't get much more blatant than that.
Still, Aichele tried to deflate the plaintiffs' argument by announcing the creation of a new voter ID card. It will be issued to anyone who isn't able to provide all of the documents needed to obtain a valid photo ID from PennDOT, such as a birth certificate.
All anyone has to do to get one is tell PennDOT they don't have approved identification to vote, provide two proofs of residence such as a utility bill, and give their birth date.
Basically, that's the same information someone needed to register to vote for the first time in a district under the old law.
Seems like the Republicans have argued themselves in a circle: There is no problem and the previous rules are fine.
Finally, we can agree.
So why wait for a judge to strike it down or the U.S. Justice Department to step in?
Repeal the law, and maybe we can forget this whole ugly mess happened.
Probably not, though.