Voter ID Fight Heads to Commonwealth Court
Civil rights groups are seeking an injunction against the law that requires voters to have photo ID when they go to the polls in November.
Since its passage four months ago, Pennsylvania's Voter ID law has been a controversial topic throughout the state and on the Web. Previous stories about the issue on Patch have featured passionate replies from commenters on both sides.
"I find this to be a form of voter suppression targeting the elderly and disabled," user Franz Perl wrote. "These groups will have the hardest time getting to a DMV center, most do not drive."
Commenter Pete Krenshaw replied, "Bottom line – we need to make sure the integrity of the voting process is preserved regardless of political affiliation. So everyone who wants to vote has until November to obtain an acceptable form of ID. It's time to get it done."
Supporters and detractors of Pennsylvania's Voter ID law finally get their chance to make their arguments later today before Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will represent 10 Pennsylvania citizens who say that the law deprives them of the right to cast a vote in November's general election, Philly.com reports. The ACLU will bring in witnesses that say they are unable to obtain the necessary photo identifications in time for the election.
In a report released earlier this month, the Pennsylvania State Department announced that more than 750,000 registered voters did not have a PennDOT issued photo ID, either a driver's license or non-driver's license. Critics argue that those numbers do not properly take into account voters that have other forms of identification.
Under the law, acceptable photo IDs include identification issued by the federal government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a driver's license or non-driver's license photo ID), a valid U.S. passport that has not expired, a U.S. military ID, an employee photo ID issued by the federal, state, county or municipal government, photo IDs from an accredited public or private Pennsylvania college or university, or an ID card issued by a state care facility.
Last week, CBS Philly reported that the Pennsylvania State Department has also created a special, free ID card solely for the purpose of voting. Residents must travel to a state licensing facility and provide two proofs of residence, such as a utility bill, their date of birth and social security number. A birth certificate is not required. The information will be verified and photo ID card issued during the same visit, a State Department spokesperson told CBS.
Governor Tom Corbett signed the controversial voter ID bill in March, saying the law aims to prevent fraud at the ballot box. According to Huffington Post, the ACLU has included in its filing documents a stipulation agreement from state officials that there has been no prosecutions or investigations of voter fraud in the past or any direct knowledge of investigations in other states.
Philly.com says the state will argue that the law is not burdensome to the electorate and every effort has been made to ensure legal voters can get the documents they need. Regardless of the outcome of the case, it is extremely likely that it will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.