Judge Refuses to Block Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

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Pennsylvania judge Robert Simpson denied a request to block the enforcement of the state’s new voter identification law.

Simpson said that the law “imposes only a limited burden on voters’ rights, and the burden does not outweigh the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep.”

The Judge explained that the law didn’t show that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”

Democrats argue that the new law will make it more difficult for the elderly, minorities and young adults to vote. An appeal is expected to be filed by members of its opposition with the state’s Supreme Court, according to The Daily Rundown.

Simpson held the trial in state court in Harrisburg, Pa. after the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued to block the new law from passing. Republican governor Tom Corbett eventually signed the law in March of this year.

Simpson, referring to an elderly woman seeking to have the law blocked and a student witness at the trial who suffers from autism said that he would be shocked if they along with other like-minded voters would not qualify for absentee voting.

Allowing blockage of the law would interfere with efforts already in place to inform voters of the requirements, according to Simpson.

Perhaps the harshest requirement for the opposition was that there was no set of circumstances under which the statute would be valid. Simpson ruled that parties such as the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Homeless Advocacy Project failed to meet those requirements.

Simpson suggested that the plaintiffs could try to convey in the future that the law imposes an unconstitutional burden on specific voters as nearly 760,000 voters couldn’t be matched between Pennsylvania’s voter’s list and the driver’s license database.

Republican House Majority Leader Michael Turzai said at a GOP event that the law “is going to allow Gov. Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Simpson said that following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Indiana voter ID law in 2008, the Court had said if a law was has valid neutral purposes, then “those justifications should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.”

Simpson relied on this ruling when it came time to make his own.

Pollster and political scientist Terry Madonna at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., who has been a critic of the law, said that come November, “I don’t think it will affect the outcome of the election.”

“There’s a monumental debate about how many people are affected by this. No one knows for sure the exact number,”  Madonna said. “Having said that, the election here would have to be very, very close … probably within 50,000 to 75,000,” for the law to affect the outcome. “And we don’t have presidential elections in the state decided by 50,000 to 75,000 people,” he said.

Though there was error within the license database and voter’s list, other forms of ID are acceptable, such as military ID cards, U.S. passports, identification cards from accredited Pennsylvania colleges or universities, Pennsylvania senior care facility IDs, or other photo ID cards issued by the government.

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