PA Voter ID Ruling Gives Voters Most Of The Loaf

As I thought, Judge Robert Simpson splits the difference. (Have I mentioned Pennsylvania has elected judges?) He's delayed the new photo ID requirement until after the presidential election.

As I thought, Judge Robert Simpson splits the difference. (Have I mentioned Pennsylvania has elected judges?) The good news is, the Voter ID law will not be fully implemented until after the presidential election, and makes it much easier to vote via provisional ballot (you won't have to appear before the county election board), but are just as likely to have that vote tossed on technical grounds (like not sealing the envelope correctly). But voters will now have their vote count, which was not as likely before this ruling:

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtunanimously rejected a lower court judge’s decision allowing that state’s voter ID law to move forward. The high court ordered the trial judge to reexamine the case to entire “liberal access” the ID voters need to vote, and to ensure that voter disenfranchisement will not result from the voter ID law — which the state’s Republican House Majority Leader said was enacted to “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

This morning, the lower court judge responded to the state supreme court’s order, and he blocked some — but not all — of the state’s voter suppression law. The punchline of his opinion is that voters will still be asked to present IDs at the polls, but voters without IDs will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and the provision of the voter ID law that effectively prevents these provisional ballots from being counted will not take effect:

I reject the underlying assertion that the offending activity is the request to produce photo ID; instead, I conclude that the salient offending conduct is voter disenfranchisement. As a result, I will not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls; rather, I will enjoin enforcement of those parts of Act 18 which directly result in disenfranchisement. . .

As to voter disenfranchisement, I carefully reviewed the language of the Election Code after amendment by Act 18. The language of disenfranchisement is found in the part of the Election Code dealing with provisional ballots: “A provisional ballot shall not be counted if ….” This language pre-existed Act 18, but Act 18 added two new circumstances when a provisional vote will not be counted. Both of these new circumstances relate to electors who are unable to produce proof of identification. . . . Thus, disenfranchisement expressly occurs during the provisional ballot part of the in-person voting process, which is addressed in subsections (a.2) and (a.4) of Section 1210. It is this part of the process which must be enjoined to prevent disenfranchisement.

The two provisions that the judge enjoined requires a voter who casts a provision ballot to “appear before the county board of elections” within six days after the election to prove their identity — normally by showing an ID. These provisions are no longer in effect, meaning that individuals who vote without IDs can have their provisional ballots cast without having to jump through even more hoops after the election.

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