Pennsylvania court allows state to continue voter ID law ads

[JURIST] A judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] ruled on Thursday that the state of Pennsylvania may continue to display advertisements touting its voter ID law [HB 943 materials] even though the court prevented the law from taking effect [JURIST report] before the November 6 election. Pennsylvania has been running ads that say "Show It" with much smaller letters that read "If you have it." Rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) and the Advancement Project [advocacy websites] argued before the court [petition, PDF] that the advertisements are an attempt to mislead and confuse voters. Judge Robert Simpson, who enjoined the voter ID law on October 2, proclaimed [Reuters report] however that the ad campaign is not intended to mislead, but instead is an "education effort" by the state. Pennsylvania voters are not required to show ID at the polls on November 6.

Pennsylvania's voter ID law has been the subject of much legal controversy. Last week the Commonwealth Court rejected a request [JURIST report] to expedite a challenge to the state's advertisements of the law. Two weeks ago JURIST guest columnist Sara Rose opined [JURIST comment] that the Commonwealth Court sent mixed messages when it enjoined the voter ID law from being implemented before the November 6 election but allowed state officials to ask for ID at the polls. The Commonwealth Court blocked the law after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated an earlier decision [JURIST reports] by the Commonwealth Court to uphold the state's new voter identification law and remanded for further consideration.

 

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