Pennsylvania court renews injunction on voter ID law

[JURIST] A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] judge issued an order [text, PDF] on Friday blocking enforcement of the state's voter identification law for the upcoming November elections. The ruling by Judge Bernard McGinley marks the third consecutive election [AP report] in which the law, passed in March 2012, will not be in effect. Despite being an extension of the preliminary injunction issued before the November 2012 election, this ruling is slightly modified [Daily Pennsylvanian report] to bar the state from requiring election workers to voters that they would need ID in future elections. McGinley opined:

It is not a matter of confusion—t is a matter of accuracy. ... Regardless of whether a request for photo ID causes confusion, telling a qualified elector that he or she will not have the right to vote in future elections if he or she does not obtain compliant photo ID, when that information has been erroneous at best, deceptive at worst, will not be continued. Not when this Court has witnessed two prior injunctions where the information, in effect, misled qualified electors.
During the week-long trial, the court weighed plaintiff testimony, including claims [Philadelphia Inquirer report] from witnesses that they did not vote in the May primary after being told last November they could not vote in the next election without ID. Both sides in the case anticipate the decision to be appealed [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report] to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website].

Voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] remain a contentious issue in the US. The ACLU challenged the law [petition for review, PDF; JURIST report] in May 2012, asking a court to block enforcement of the law for the November 2012 elections. The group claimed that the law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution [text] and will prevent eligible voters from casting their votes. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill into law [JURIST report] in March of last year. It was passed earlier that week in the House of Representatives by a vote of 104-88. In November 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the decision [JURIST reports] of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upholding the law and remanded for further consideration. Unlike the current trend of voter ID laws, Pennsylvania's allows voters to vote without an ID as long as they verify their identity within six days of voting. Absentee ballots will also only require identification by Social Security number.

 

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