Voter ID Law Upheld In Pennsylvania
August 17, 2012 11:15 am
A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge refused to block the implementation of the Republican-backed voter ID law Wednesday, and voting rights advocates are aghast at the ruling, which will disproportionately affect low-income voters. The law requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls, though lawyers defending the law admitted they are “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.”
Judge Robert Simpson’s decision relied heavily on Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, a US Supreme Court ruling upholding a similar law in Indiana. The Pennsylvania case differs, as the plaintiffs are registered voters who have been unable to obtain photo identification. Though Judge Simpson claimed he was unconvinced that Act 18 (the voter ID law) would result in voter disenfranchisement, there is compelling evidence that it is merely an invention to silence the voices of democratic voters.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The two sides differed greatly on the potential consequences of the law. Republican officials estimated that about 1% of Pennsylvania’s voters — or about 90,000 persons — lacked the required ID cards. But in July, the state’s Department of Transportation said that about 758,000 registered voters did not have a valid driver’s license that would allow them to vote. In heavily Democratic Philadelphia, 18% of registered voters did not have a valid state driver’s license.
The Atlantic’s Garrett Epps calls the constitutionality of this theory into question:
In some contexts where we require ID, such a justification is really fine. For example, requiring extensive documentation to obtain a cab driver’s license is probably okay, even if there’s no evidence of fraudulent cab-driving. That’s because the right to a cab license isn’t what constitutional lawyers call “fundamental.”
But a state can’t abridge important rights just because it feels like it. If the right to vote is important, then the state’s justification is as sinister as if it decided to cut back on free speech because bureaucrats prefer the quiet.
PA House Majority leader revealed the true motivation for the law when speaking with a partisan audience in June, saying, ”[The Act] ”is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
The ACLU and other groups representing the plaintiffs’ will appeal the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and move for a quick decision.
Penda Hair, an attorney for the Advancement Project, another group representing the plaintiffs, spoke on the decision and appeal:
It’s contrary to core American values and sadly takes us back to a dark place in our country’s history,” Hair said. “We hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will see through this and affirm that all Pennsylvania voters have a right to be heard at the ballot box.
Image from here