CitizenLink.com – 10/2/12 – Bethany Monk
A Pennsylvania state judge on Tuesday halted efforts to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID before casting their ballots in the November election.
Judge Robert Simpson’s ruling followed two days of testimony about some of the difficulties people may face in obtaining valid identification as well as the state’s role in making it easier to do so.
The ruling may be appealed to the state Supreme Court, scheduled to convene on Oct. 15.
Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI), told CitizenLink that just as people need photo identification to board an airplane, it also should be a requirement at the ballot box.
“The notion of being who you say you are seems integral to a fair and just voting system,” he said.
Geer said the law has been a “contentious issue” since Gov. Tom Corbett signed it on March 14. Opponents of voter ID laws, including the Obama administration, claim they alienate certain voters, including minorities, who may not have a state-issued ID.
On May 1, a group of individuals and civil rights groups sued to block the law before the election, claiming it violates the state constitution by infringing the “fundamental right to vote.”
Simpson ruled in August that the plaintiffs did not establish that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.” He stated in his 70-page decision that voters had plenty of time to obtain valid photo identification before the November election.
Between Aug. 15 and Oct. 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued approximately 9,500 driver’s licenses, and the Department of State issued about 1,350 photo IDs. Simpson said those numbers fell short of the expectations he had in August.
“For this reason, I accept Petitioners’ argument that in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed,” Simpson wrote on Tuesday. “I reject the Respondents’ argument that my initial estimate was overblown.”
Geer said it’s possible the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could reverse the decision before Election Day.
“It’s hard for me to predict,” he said. “The opportunity for appeal is there. I suspect there will be one. It’s in the realm of possibilities.”
Thirty states require voters to show some sort of identification before casting a ballot.
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Read the Oct. 2 ruling.