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Pa. Voter ID Law Halted by Judge

Tuesday's court ruling will allow voters to cast ballots on Nov. 6 without showing photo ID at the polls

Judge Robert Simpson issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday morning, halting part of Pennsylvania's tough new Voter ID Law from affecting the November presidential election.

While the decision does not repeal the law that requires citizens to show photo identification to vote, if upheld, the ruling allows registered voters to cast ballots without an ID. 

Any appeal of Tuesday's ruling will be expedited by the state Supreme Court since Election Day is just five weeks away.

To issue an injunction on the law, Simpson was tasked to consider two questions:

  • Does the issuance of IDs "comport with liberal access" that the General Assembly required?
  • Will no voter disenfranchisement exist if the law is implemented this fall?

Simpson, of Nazareth, is a former Northampton County judge.

What do you think of the ruling? Tell us in the comments section below.

Both supporters and opponents of the law reacted to the ruling on Twitter. State Rep. Mike Turzai, a controversial figure in the Voter ID law debate, issued a statement on the ruling.

Liberal Access?

In returning the case to Simpson, the commonwealth's Supreme Court said then-current procedures were "contrary" to liberal access—a directive from the General Assembly.

Essentially, people had to travel at least twice to state facilities to receive free IDs. Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation eased that requirement to allow people to get IDs in one trip—with the Department of State on-hand to verify voter registration.

Although state officials testified that this will ensure people receive IDs, Simpson wrote he rejected it for three reasons:

  1. It relies on "assurances of government officials," which the Supreme Court disagreed with;
  2. The five-week run-up time to Election Day is too short;
  3. Officials testified that there was a potential for "unforeseen problems which impede implementation...

"For these reasons, I cannot conclude the proposed changes cure the deficiency in liberal access identified by the Supreme Court," Simpson wrote.

No Disenfranchisement

In the original ruling, Simpson doubted arguments against the law on the ability to close the gap between eligible voters and those without approved IDs. He felt disenfranchisement would be minimal.

However, PennDOT recently testified it issued between 9,300 and 9,500 IDs for voting, and the Department of State issued between 1,300 and 1,350. Although driver's licenses increased in that period compared to 2011, it was too "slight" for Simpson.

"I expected more photo IDs to have been issued by this time. For this reason, I accept (the plaintiff's) argument that in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed," he said.

Election Day... and Beyond

Not all aspects of the Voter ID Law will be thrown out for Election Day. The plaintiffs conceded that requirements for absentee ballot (writing driver's license or Social Security numbers) do not cause injury. Additionally, poll workers can still request ID—as they did during the April primary. However, Simpson's ruling allows people to vote come Election Day without providing photo identification.

The preliminary injunction will only last until the general election. Simpson's interpretation of the Supreme Court's directive was to rule only on certain aspects of the law. As it stands now, he will later rule on a permanent injunction after the election. A status hearing is set for Dec. 13. 

Just because Simpson delayed implementation does not mean he rejects the Voter ID Law. In his opinion, he credited Pennsylvania agencies with streamlining the birth date validation process, creating a help line and extending hours.

"These existing structural improvements, together with the proposed enhanced access to the DOS ID and additional time, will place the Commonwealth in a better position going forward," he wrote.

Other Voter ID Measures

A wave of new voter identification requirements has been approved in the past few years, primarily by Republican-controlled Legislatures.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in 2008
  • Georgia's top court upheld that state's voter ID law
  • A federal court panel struck down Texas' voter ID law
  • The state court in Wisconsin has blocked its voter ID laws for now.
  • The Justice Department cleared New Hampshire's voter ID law earlier this year
  • A federal court is reviewing South Carolina's law
WILFREDO G. SALCEDO, Sr. October 03, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Good decision...Let's do this after the elections when there will be more time to do it, not when everyone is going every which way to get the ID as it is now. I know, many Republican sour puss posters here are crying foul right now because they didn't get their way!..But hey, this is the right thing to do.
louis kootsares October 03, 2012 at 10:55 AM
go look at the opinion poll at wfmz 90 percent think it was a bad move..i really think there should be an iq test given ..of course the democrats would cry foul with good reason
BytraWatches October 03, 2012 at 10:57 AM
First, you currently need photo ID for everything you do these days from buying alcohol to getting on a plane to cashing a check. Who doesn't have valid photo ID except maybe illegal aliens. Second, isn't it a bit ironic to you that the Democrats demanded photo ID for entry into their national convention but don't think it's necessary to vote?
Geri Flores October 03, 2012 at 11:26 AM
If you had ever read anything about this issue you would understand that this law is trying to fix something that's not broken. There have not been documented issues of voter fraud. Those without photo ID's include the elderly who do not have current driver's licenses, and young people without them. Do you think everybody flies or owns a car and drives? When was the last time you were asked for ID to buy a bottle of wine?
Geri Flores October 03, 2012 at 11:27 AM
That being said, I am content that there will now be ample time to properly implement the law, and not the rush that there was.
Rosemary B October 03, 2012 at 12:00 PM
No voter fraud? Funny, I seem to be hearing about a voter fraud case on a weekly basis!http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/19709197/2012/10/02/possible-voter-registration-fraud-spotted-in-pasco-county
Rosemary B October 03, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Might not be implemented for this election, but I will be happy when t is the law of the land.
LMTnative October 03, 2012 at 12:18 PM
The argument that voters didn't have enough time is pure B. S. The law was passed back on March 14, 2012. How much more time to people need? This is grand standing to let voter fraud continue for another election cycle in hopes that the socialists can repeal or amend the law. How many Philly voting districts will have over 100% turnout in this election? When are people going to wake up and realize that voter fraud is a real problem?
Rick Marshall October 03, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Judge states "potential for "unforeseen problems" as a reason for his dicision. There is potential for "unforeseen problems" in EVERYTHING people do, from the time you get out of bed, to the time you get back in it. Just a broad, vague excuse by Simpson.
Steve October 03, 2012 at 01:26 PM
My doctor required my ID, the hotel required an ID, the bank required an ID, the airline required an ID and now often I have to sometimes show my ID when I use my credit card......... you even need an ID to pick up your EBT card..... I don't know anyone without an ID....and in the state of Pa,,,PennDOT issues IDs for FREE....what a deal...! I bet if there was a $10 bill attached to each ID issued we'd have a problem of too many IDs issued. I couldn't stop laughing when I read somewhere that getting an ID was considered a poll tax since it cost money to DRIVE to get your FREE ID. People and businesses require ID to prevent problems...... if you can't get an ID than you are either very lazy, need an excuse not to vote or simply live in a cave and are 100% out of touch with society,
Ronald Weaver October 03, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Can you even trust Judges these days, all politics, what in the world has become of this land and our future , common sense, our laws, and the Constitution which is suppose to protect us from fraud and law breakers. Laws are only upheld when it benefits the Political Party's and adjenda they believe in. Look at our Supreme Court Justice System, Liberal or Conservative advantage has become the influence in uphold our laws in too many rulings. It can only lead to disrespect and trust for our Justice System. Can't even trust the intregrity of the President who continues to lie and deceive for votes, spending billions of OUR hard earned tax dollars to buy a voting block like buying penny candy. Then wants tax increases which will only cause them to spend money more wildly. His voting block don't care for the most part about where this country is headed. Open to bribes by perks.
Walter October 03, 2012 at 02:11 PM
There is such a division in this country. Worse than that, is the all about me attitude. It is no wonder why we are in the shape we are in. Everyone should have a valid ID. It helps prevent deception. It helps prevent mistakes. It helps ensure accuracy. Common Sense. What I don’t understand is how the decisions regarding this issue affect any party more than the other. If lack of ID prevents a vote, it could be for any party. If fraud allows multiple votes, they could be for any party. Step out of line for just a moment, Lemmings. Think.
Steve October 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Ronald I could not agree with you more..... never have I been more worried about the future of this country as I am now.......the lies from politicians are like grains of sand...... the bribes (legal) by special interest groups are so rampant...... and no one is concerned about the future about this country. It's all about ME and what I get now ..... I feel sorry for the next few generations ...... they will inherit a super mess which will impact their standard of living. Obama is trying to fix a problem caused by too much debt with more debt......and he thinks that increasing taxes on anyone will make this country stronger. So many people are so naive and would vote for anyone simply to get a $50 bill in their pocket today...... What happens when we have $19.2 trillion in debt in 2016 (as per Obama's budget) and interest rates come back to 6% and cost this nation $1 trillion in interest ? That's a huge number considering we only collect $2.5 trillion this year. How long can this ponzi scheme continue ?
Barrytee October 03, 2012 at 02:58 PM
If you do not have a picture ID you have to be some sort of Idiot in today's world.
WILFREDO G. SALCEDO, Sr. October 03, 2012 at 03:01 PM
The RNC tried another gimmick by disallowing Democratic voters in 5 swing States during registration process (this has since been stopped when it was obvious this wasn't a good idea)...And now, what are we hearing?..Corbett and company put out ads again telling voters not to come to vote of they don't have IDs after Judge Simpson threw out the law as unfair...What a fraud!
Freedomforall October 03, 2012 at 04:12 PM
GOP rep. Turzai said voter ID in PA would give Romney the state. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuOT1bRYdK8 For a party that claims Freedom to be one of their cornerstones, I have one word: Hipocrits.
Barrytee October 03, 2012 at 09:34 PM
You have 2 bums running for president, pick one.
WILFREDO G. SALCEDO, Sr. October 05, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Romney, the better bum.

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