N ormally, I consider an issue, decide my position on it and then hunker down for as long as I must to defend it.
Most of the time I hold onto that position with an iron grip.
But every once in a while, I reconsider ... change my mind, even. I like to view that as a sign of maturity in my old age, being willing to change my mind when it's called for.
Hence, my admission today that I have changed my mind on the Pa. Voter ID law.
For the second time.
But not for reasons you might think.
Back in March, when the state General Assembly approved what was called the "Voter Identification Bill," and Gov. Tom Corbett quickly added his approval, I wrote a column saying I thought the law and the photo ID documents required to abide by the law were unnecessary.
Why? Because my own voting experience was sufficient to convince me that voter fraud was a rare/if ever occurrence. So if it wasn't broken, let's not spend a lot of money, time and energy trying to fix it. That was the approach taken by the Democratic Party, as well.
But after thinking it over for a couple of months, I changed my mind. And I did that because there were reports on CNN and in several publications that detailed voter fraud and ballot stuffing in Philadelphia in 2008 -- the last presidential election.
It was suggested that as many as 1,500 questionable ballots were sent to the U.S. Attorney, and 8,000 more were thought to be suspicious.
That's not exactly rampant voter fraud in the big scheme of things, I guess, but it never should have happened.
In my mind, if it happened even once, that was one time too many. Though disingenuous, that was the position taken by the Republican Party. In truth -- actually confirmed out loud by high-ranking Republicans -- their motivation was to help Mitt Romney win the state in the upcoming presidential election.
Partisan politics were hanging all over this deal.
I take voting seriously. So out of a concern for protecting the voting process, which I consider as fundamental as it gets in a democracy, I have argued ad nauseam that it is not only good public policy, but common sense, to insist that no one be allowed to vote unless they are a U.S. citizen and properly registered to vote.
One person -- one vote. It's as simple as that.
So I decided Voter ID in this state -- in every state, for that matter -- was one of those necessary evils I would try to live with for the good of the country.
I wrote several columns in recent months saying just that.
But now I've changed my mind again.
Not because I don't believe the voting process isn't worth protecting, however.
"One person -- one vote" still rings true to me.
But the politics ... it sucks the air right out of the room. And it has nothing to do with doing the work of the people.
Voter ID has been in and out of the courts and on the front pages of newspapers in this state almost every day for the last six months.
And not because either major party is primarily concerned about the voting process. All they care about is adding up votes on their side of the ledger.
The Republicans claim Democrats have long abused election laws by cramming voting booths with illegal voters. And the Democrats say the Republicans have no interest except to suppress typically Democratic (inner-city, seniors and minority citizens) voters.
And neither is making much of an effort to convince anyone they're really fighting for the voting process -- to make it as legal and clean as it possibly can be.
Why is it so hard for Democrats and Republicans to join forces across the aisle to take a position that voter fraud must never be tolerated?
If ever there was an issue that called for bipartisan backbone and support, one might think this should be it.
But no. It's just one more thing to argue about.
Politicians in this state need to get their priorities squared away -- in a non-presidential election year, I hope -- and decide that the principle of fair and honest elections has more societal value than playing partisan politics.
The goal should be getting it right, and for the right reason. Here's a shocker -- the right reason has nothing to do with winning elections. That seems to escape Pennsylvania lawmakers.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson issued a partial injunction on Tuesday, Oct. 2, blocking the requirement that voters in Pennsylvania need to provide photo identification on Election Day, Nov. 6.
But voters still could be asked if they have a photo ID.
For this year, that'll have to be good enough, I guess.
Beyond that? I'm not holding my breath waiting for a non-partisan miracle.
That rarely happens in this state. If ever.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.