Pa. Voter ID Challenge is a Case of Contradictions

The state Supreme Court has little time to decide on the challenge to Pa.'s new Voter ID law

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — As Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law goes before the state Supreme Court, the case is a study in contradictions.

The eight plaintiffs — who are seeking an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect before the Nov. 6 election because thousands of Pennsylvanians couldn’t obtain the necessary identification in time — possess the required photo identification or other documentation the new law requires to vote.

Before voting in Pennsylvania this year, residents must show a photo ID, unless the state Supreme Court strikes down the new law.

No matter, say their attorneys, because the law could still disenfranchise about 100,000 other Pennsylvanians who do not have those credentials.

“The vice is not in requiring photo identification, the vice is in requiring photo identification that not everyone has or has the ability to obtain,” David Gersch, a plaintiff for the challengers, told the Supreme Court during oral arguments on Thursday in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the state — who are defending a law aimed at preventing voter fraud — have said they cannot provide any examples of in-person voter fraud occurring in Pennsylvania.

No matter, they say, because the law is within the constitutional authority of the General Assembly.

While the right to vote is fundamental, voting cannot take place without state regulation, and fashioning that regulation is the legitimate role of the General Assembly, said John Knorr, representing the state Attorney General’s Office.

Now the state Supreme Court must sort out this mess.

The high court must decide if it will overturn the decision of Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who upheld the voter ID law last month.

That ruling was appealed by the plaintiffs, who argue the new law — passed in March — did not give voters enough time to comply with burden of obtaining the necessary photo identification.

“There is too little time, and there are too many people affected,” Gersch said.

Justice Michael Eakin said the new requirement for voting would always pose a burden to voters, regardless of the time.

The implementation process alone was not grounds for overturning a lower court ruling, agreed Chief Justice Ron Castille.

Eakin also dismissed plaintiffs’ argument that there is no evidence of voter fraud.

“There was fraud in the time of George Washington, and there will be fraud 200 years from now,” he said.

But Justice Debra Todd said the process of implementing the new law was a key part of evaluating whether the Legislature overstepped its authority in passing the voter ID requirement.

“How much better could we do if we had two years” to implement the law and inform voters, instead of a few months? she asked, challenging the attorneys for the state. “What’s the rush?”

Knorr responded that the election process would be more sound with the new rules in place.

“This system is better than the one that we had before,” he said, adding that the plaintiffs had not provided any actual evidence of any individuals who couldn’t obtain the necessary identification before Election Day.

With the court evenly divided between three Republican justices and three Democratic justices, there is a possibility of a party-line decision and a 3-3 deadlock on the court.  Such a ruling would uphold the law, as a majority of the court is required to overturn a lower court ruling.

The court’s seventh member, Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican, is suspended from the bench until her pending trial is resolved. She is charged with using legislative and judicial staff to assist her 2009 campaign for election to the court.

Bruce Ledewitz, a law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, said Thursday that a 3-3 split decision would be “the worst possible outcome,” because it would make the whole process look like a partisan political maneuver — though he noted the state Supreme Court has shown itself to be less partisan than other branches of government.

Either way, the election is only seven weeks away and the justices “will have to decide quickly, because not to decide is effectively a decision,” he said.

Joseph Robert September 17, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Foreign Policy Achievements President Obama: • Killed Osama Bin Laden • Ended Iraq War • Killed more Al Qaeda leaders than any other President • Supported "Arab Spring" uprising Romney • None Romney: NO foreign policy experience in a very DANGEROUS world!
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:16 PM
HAHAAHAHA. Obama has become a great president? HAHAHAHAAH. He hasn't gotten anything done for 2 years. The economy is in a shambles. Foreign policy is a shambles. He's an idiot.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Dimwit.... Obama had no experience and you claim he is doing a great job, so no experience is needed.... but in reality - Killed Osama Bin Laden - No he didn't. Seals did. Any idiot can say "Go do it". Even you. - Ended Iraq War - Ya, and it's a total disaster over there now - Killed more leaders - Ya, we used to capture them an get intelligence from them - Arab Spring - A TOTAL disaster, with radical muslims taking over everywhere In reality, Obama - Blew $1 trillion on a stimulus to save his union buddies jobs. It did nothing to help the economy, and his union stooges lost their jobs anyway when stimulus ran out - Economy is HORRID. 47 million on food stamps, record numbers of social security disability claims, unemployment is really 13%. Lowest number of people working in 40 years - Foreign Policy - A muslim appeaser. World thinks we are a joke. Enemies like Iran laugh at how weak this presidunce is. Completely blew relationship with Israel. Is a closet muslim who appologizes even when they kill our people - ObamaCare will be an abortion of a bill. Now estimated to cost TWICE what Obumma said it would - Gas at all time high price. Shut down drilling on all federal lands. Sends money (aid) to Brazil so they will drill. Blows BILLIONS on feel good, won't work "green" energy - Takes on Christian groups at every turn, while allowing muslim groups to do whatever they want - Sold guns to mexicans - Breaks law with executive orders for mexicans
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:29 PM
- Goes to Vegas as our ambassadors are being killed, apologizes to muslims - Has spent more time playing golf than any other president over last 2 years - Hasn't gotten a budget pass for 3 years!!!! Not even a single vote from a democrat. Idiot. - Has NO BUSINESS EXPERIENCE, and neither do any of his staff. That's why he blows money on energy businesses that can't work. - Had both the house and senate his first two years, does NOTHING to fix economy, comes up with joke called Obamacare. Moron. - Has attended more fund raisers than any other president EVER. He has not governed for 2 years, only held fund raisers. Jerk. - Rolled his failed stimulus spending into the budget, so now we spend $1.4 Trillion a year more than we have, have $16 Trillion in debt, and no end in sight. - Idiots idea to fix economy? Another stimulus package.... to hire teachers and fire fighters. Why? Because the private sector is doing just FINE. RETARD. - Doesn't listen to a single recommendation from his own debt commission. - Asks for "more time" so his plans can work, except his plans have not done a damn thing for the last 4 years. More time will only make things worse. - Uses executive Order to hide documents about fast and furious... hey, wasn't he supposed to have the most open administration ever? - Can't speak unless he has a teleprompter... ya, he's so smart - Won't release school records. he applied as a muslim Kenyan student
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:30 PM
In this case, it will suppress the votes of dumb democrats, so this is good. And if it was a muslim cleric saying this, Obama would endorse it.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Dumb people voting = bad. Voter ID = good. We should have a basic math test as well. Can a person add our current debt to how much Obama will add if he wins. Also, if you are on public assistance, you don't get to vote. Why should bums get to vote for more free money. Rediculous.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Ya, you're high all right.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Yes, there is evidence that it has happened many places. Democrats hate this because they count on voter fraud.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Great... then all the lamo's will have 2 months to get an idea. Offer them $50 in lottery tickets or a carton of cigarrettes if they come for an ID... they'll come in droves.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:36 PM
There was nothing phony about 2000, only a bunch of democratic voters too stupid to read a ballot. Two different newspapers counted every vote, and Bush won Florida. Get over it already. Quit mentioning Bush.... you have your own disaster in office now.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Ann Marie... don't confuse the Obama supporters with facts.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:38 PM
The consequences? Democrats won't be able to run their usual voter fraud processes down in Phila.... we might have a real vote this time.
Crestor Januvia September 17, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Owned by Huffington Post... that should tell you everything you need to know. Hey, have you signed up for "Dinner with Barack" yet? Or sent "Barack and Michelle" a happy anniversary message, or told Michelle you are "On Board"?
KRigger September 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
No Peety......it will put in office who shold be in office as one vote per person who is eligible to vote. Got it.....one legal vote per person. No more dead people voting.....no more 125% voter turnout in Philly......just a vote the way it sould be...If Mitt wins then that is the way it should be.
KRigger September 17, 2012 at 07:51 PM
dream on dude you sound like my wife you get your news from the people who have Obama behind on their face. There is no way Obama is going to win this with the economy still the way it is and unemployment as bad as it it......unless you are one of those who are enjoying unemployment (recieving gov checks) In most elections since the economic crash the T party candidates have won even when the polls said that they wouldn't. I don't believe in polls they are BS made up to support who ever is funding them......
Joseph Robert September 17, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Attention Pennsylvania Seniors on Medicare and All Others Using Government Assistance!!! This is what Mitt Romney thinks of you and ALL OF AMERICANS dependent on government support: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.” “..my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives” Mitt Romney, speaking at fund-raising dinner, Spring 2012 Watch the video at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/mitt-romney-trashes-the-47-percent/2012/09/17/f3ef2b6e-0116-11e2-9367-4e1bafb958db_blog.html Mitt Romney: He thinks you act like a VICTIM!
KRigger September 18, 2012 at 11:43 PM
You are being disingenuous The 47% number is not a Romney number it is a n Obama Administration number. There is somting wrong with 47 out of every 100 people not paying taxes at all. I pay about 1500 to 2000 each year in income taxes alone. I am not rich but I pay for bums to sit on their behinds and collect. I say starvation is a motivator to go to work
High-On-Lehigh September 19, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Here is something strange to consider: Many of the worthless, freeloading, low-earning vermin class at the teat of the rest of us, the ones that comprise 47% (!) of the people living within our borders (how scary is THAT!!) actually pay a higher fraction of their meager earnings to the Federal Treasury than Romney himself does. It is true that they do not pay Income Tax to the US (they still may pay to PA), but between themselves and their employers, they are contributing *** 15.3 % **** of their meager earnings as Payroll Taxes to Social Security and Medicare. Romney pays something like **** 13.9% **** in federal Income Taxes (on that fraction of his wealth that is flowing in from within the borders of the US), but because of the Cap on Soc Sec contributions at around $106 K of Earned Income, and because Investment Income [--which, incidentally gets taxed at the highly favorable Capital Gains Rate, even for trillionaires-- but that's another topic] is Not Subject to Either the Social Security or Medicare tax, the percentage of his income he gives up to Payroll Tax is probably something like **** 0.1% **** -- for a grand total of **** 14 % of Romney’s earnings **** going to the US Treasury.
Molly Maguire September 19, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Crestor, FOXNews-spun commentary. About 90% of what you rant about is YOUR OPINION. You sound like an angry, rabid dog.
Molly Maguire September 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Mitt Romney, a son of privilege who used family connections and family advantages to accumulate a “vulture capitalist” fortune, and who now collects multimillion-dollar checks for doing absolutely nothing, claims to have identified 47 percent of Americans “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.” -- John Nichols
Molly Maguire September 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Continuing John Nichols: "Mitt Romney is not a member of this class of Americans [the 47%]. As a quarter-billionaire, he is part of a multi-generational elite—the most privileged 1 percent of the 1 percent—that has never ever had to worry about making ends meet at the end of the month. But Mitt Romney has something in common with the working poor. Like them, he benefits from federal programs that are designed to allow some Americans to avoid paying some or all of the taxes that would otherwise be due from them."
penllynjohn September 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I do not believe the Democrat party would ever push voter ID. They are liberal which here translates into anyone goes and goes and goes and goes...
High-On-Lehigh September 20, 2012 at 02:06 AM
BS. The objection is not to voter ID, it is to springing an onerous new system for voter ID just in time to swing a presidential election.
Ike September 21, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Morgan King September 21, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Centrist liberals pushed for IDs throughout the 90s only be shot down by their opponents for being police state communists. As far as I can tell, there is wide bipartisan support for Voter IDs, just not ones this poorly considered and rushed into law.
Morgan King September 21, 2012 at 06:14 PM
If I didn't drive, I would never need an ID - I'm old enough not to get carded anymore for alcohol, I opened my bank account ages ago and they don't ask for it for transactions. I can't even remember the last time I needed it. Loads of people in PA don't drive and don't have bank accounts - hundreds of thousands, apparently. The nuts are bitching about it because we want everyone who is legally entitled to vote to be able to do so.
Ike September 21, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Morgan King September 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
You know that reads as complete gibberish, right? I know internet commenting isn't exactly the height of human discourse, but that's basically unreadable. Triple commas?
High-On-Lehigh September 23, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Sarah Silverman comments on the real problem of Voter Fraud-- and what you can do about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypRW5qoraTw
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