Judge Upholds Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on Wednesday morning released his decision that parties challenging the Voter ID law were not able to prove that it will cause 'immediate and irreparable harm' to the electorate.
Pennsylvania's new voter identification law will stand ... for now.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on Wednesday morning released his decision, saying that parties challenging the voter ID law were not able to prove it will cause "immediate and irreparable harm" to the electorate.
Challenge to the law were brought by voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The groups suing to overturn the law immediately vowed to appeal the judgment.
Pennsylvania passed a law in March requiring all registered voters to show a valid and "acceptable" photo ID before voting. That means that every voter in Baldwin Borough, Whitehall Borough and Baldwin Township will need valid photo ID when they arrive at the polls.
Opponents of the law say that it disproportionately targets the elderly as well as the poor and minorities, who typically vote Democratic. Furthermore, critics say that the burden of obtaining an acceptable ID for these people would keep them from voting.
However, Judge Simpson decided that the state has surpassed its requirements to offer photo identification to those who need it and granted voters the ability to cast provisional ballots and prove their identity within six days. He also noted that some of those who testified for the plaintiffs would likely need to use absentee ballots to vote.
"(The plaintiffs) did an excellent job of 'putting a face' to those burdened by the voter ID requirement," Simpson wrote in his decision. "At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel."
Thirty states have some sort of voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and of those, 19 do not require a photo, six do, and five, including Pennsylvania, have strict photo requirements.
In June, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined county Controller Chelsa Wagner in challenging the law. Wagner, a Democrat, has endorsed efforts in the courts to keep the law from taking effect before November's general elections, and her office filed an amicus brief in the challenge to the law.
Controversy over the law flared in June when state Democrats criticized a comment from State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Bradford Woods Borough) about the newly enacted law.
Turzai's comment, which made its way to YouTube, was among several items that he said had been accomplished on the Republican agenda. In the video, he says: "Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
Click here to read the full court opinion.
Do you agree or disagree with the judge's decision? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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