Pennsylvania judge blocks controversial voter ID law
But the court is still allowing officials to ask voters to show their ID this November – even though those who don't have one will still be allowed to vote.
A Pennsylvania judge issued an injunction on Tuesday blocking the requirement that voters must present photo ID to have their ballots counted in the November election.Skip to next paragraph
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The case is being closely watched amid a raging partisan debate over voter ID laws nationwide. Republican-controlled legislatures in several states have passed such laws, citing the need to prevent election fraud and foster confidence in the election system. Democrats have opposed the efforts, accusing Republicans of trying to disenfranchise poor and elderly voters who may lack the funds, mobility, and time needed to obtain an accepted form of photo identification prior to the election.
Although the US Supreme Court upheld a similar photo ID law in Indiana in 2008, lower-court rulings have been mixed. Similar laws have been blocked in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Texas, while they have been upheld in Georgia and New Hampshire. South Carolina’s law is currently under review in federal court.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson had earlier refused to block the Pennsylvania law, saying that despite testimony about logistical problems, long lines, and confusion among voters, he did not believe it would lead to voter disenfranchisement.
The judge said that any voters lacking proper ID would be given the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot that could be verified and counted within six days of the election.
Lawyers challenging the voter ID law appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That court returned the case to Judge Simpson with instructions to take a closer look at the disenfranchisement issue.
Simpson said his injunction was tailored to address the portion of the new voter ID law that threatened to disenfranchise would-be voters. He noted that the law, which took effect March 14, had provided for a transition period that allowed voters to vote without presenting an ID during the Pennsylvania primary election.