Judge Upholds Voter ID Law
Will this decision stick? Both sides had said they would appeal this ruling.
Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law will stand … for now.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson released his decision Wednesday that parties challenging the Voter ID law were not able to prove it will cause “immediate and irreparable harm” to the electorate.
The challenge to the law was brought by voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP.
“The court had a chance to intercede the PA legislators’ attempt to suppress the vote on Election Day,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP. “However, with today’s decision and the estimated amount of Pennsylvanians who lack the required photo ID, we will witness a marked decrease in voter turnout and in the number of ballots that will be counted on and after Election Day.”
It’s unclear what this decision will actually mean, as both sides had vowed to appeal the judgment if it didn’t go their way.
Pennsylvania passed a law in March requiring all registered voters to show a valid and “acceptable” photo ID before voting. This is one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation. That means every voter in Upper St. Clair will need valid photo ID when he or she arrives at the polls.
Opponents of the law say it disproportionately targets the elderly as well as the poor and minorities, who typically vote Democrat. Furthermore, critics say that the burden of obtaining an acceptable ID for these people would keep them from voting.
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 require a photo 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 the election 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, about the newly enacted law.
Turzai's comment, which made its way to YouTube, was among several items he said had been accomplished on the Republican agenda.
On the video, he says: "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
Turzai released a statement Wednesday about Simpson's ruling.
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason issued the following statement regarding the court’s decision:
“Today is an important day for voters in the state of Pennsylvania as the Commonwealth Court’s ruling protects the integrity of our electoral process at every level – city, state and federal. I applaud the Commonwealth Court for displaying courage and conviction in this ruling. With sensational headlines and half-truths about this legislation being touted by partisan critics, we are fortunate that the Commonwealth Court realized that the sanctity of our elections was at stake – and took appropriate action to protect a cherished right."
Do you agree or disagree with the Commonwealth Court decision? Let us know what you think in the comments section.