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Judge Upholds, Delays Voter ID Law in PA

This isn’t a total victory for proponents of the voter ID law, but it is a very positive sign. While the judge upheld the Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show identification at the voting booths today, part of the law will be postponed until after this election:

A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge has ruled that the state’s controversial new voter ID law will stand, but voters without a valid picture ID card will still be able to cast their vote and have it counted this November.

Judge Robert Simpson has effectively decided to postpone part of the law.   Following his ruling, voters will still be asked for a valid voter ID at the poll.  But if they don’t have it, they will still be able to cast their vote in the usual manner.

Voters will be asked to show ID, but they will not be turned away if they don’t have one, at least for the upcoming presidential election. Heritage’s resident voting law expert Hans von Spakovsky notes that there was no permanent injunction issued, and the partial postponement will only impact this election. Opponents of the voter ID law can still appeal — and I imagine they will — but it’s a setback for their argument that the law itself is unconstitutional.

While many headlines spin this temporary injunction as a win for voter ID opponents, that’s actually not the case in the long-term. At the Heritage blog, von Spakovsky writes:

While this may seem to be a win for opponents of common-sense election reform efforts like voter ID, it is actually a loss. Pennsylvania was handicapped in implementing its new law by the shortness of time remaining before the election. The court simply found that the state could not effectively implement the ID requirement in only a month. The law is still in place and remains valid.

Critics of voter ID laws claim that they’re going to be used to disenfranchise voters in the upcoming election, in a sinister plot to flip the election in Mitt Romney’s favor. In fact, those who support voter ID laws do so for sensible reasons. Voting integrity is just as critical as voting access, and if someone is able to cast a ballot illegally, that cancels out the choice of a legal voter. Asking for people to present valid IDs at the polls is a simple and reasonable requirement.

The judge in this case reasoned that some voters might not have enough time to obtain identification before the upcoming election — that’s a legitimate argument. But to argue the law is unconstitutional and should never be implemented is ridiculous. If low-income people are less likely to have valid identification, the emphasis should be on helping them obtain IDs, not blocking safeguards at voting booths.



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