It could have been worse ? just read some of the sophomoric yowling on left-wing blogs, if you dare ? but the News & Observer‘s editorial board did not shriek hysterically when taking on Republican lawmakers’ pledge to pass legislation requiring voters to present ID at the polls.

While calling the proposal “cramped” and “unjustified,” the editors leave out a word that would make their case against the plan more credible. Those who cannot present current, state-issued or authorized identifying documents will, the editors say,

either have to get a photo ID or stay away from the polls. The latter course is 180 degrees from the promise – and premise – of American democracy, which is that governments gain legitimacy with every additional vote.

What word did the editors exclude? “Valid.” Governments gain legitimacy with every additional valid vote.

If the integrity of elections did not matter, then anyone of any age could cast a ballot — infants, foreign tourists, death row inmates, non-citizen residents (those here legally and those not), dogs, cats, you name it. Why not let the dead vote? Early and often. It’s the Chicago way …

The proposal is designed to ensure that only those people who are eligible to vote exercise the franchise. That is all.

The editors state that some estimates show a “significant” number of adults lack ID, and then asserting “it’s reasonable to guess that poor people and minorities are more likely to fall into that category.” Is that based on any evidence? Or is it a sloppy (and paternalistic) assumption that poor people and minorities are too incompetent to keep up with those documents?

That said, the editorial did point out a provision the General Assembly should add to its plan to require picture ID at the polls: The government should provide ID cards free to those who can’t afford them. That should do away with the final reasonable objection to an ID mandate.