Pennsylvania Supreme Court sends voter ID law back for review

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 14:58 EDT
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A man in a voting booth (AFP)
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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered a review of the state’s new voter identification law, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

The decision (PDF) sets aside an earlier ruling by the state’s Commonwealth Court, and ordered it to review the availability of the state-issued photo identification for eligible voters, with a supplemental decision by Oct. 2 at the latest.

“We find that the disconnect between what the Law prescribes and how it is being implemented has created a number of conceptual difficulties in addressing the legal issues raised,” the Supreme Court said in its 4-2 decision.

Last month, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson rejected an injunction against the law, which opponents say could block 759,000 people from voting in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

As Bloomberg News noted, that would constitute nine percent of the state’s voting pool; President Barack Obama won the state — and its 20 electoral college votes — by 620,478 votes four years ago.

Supporters of the law, which took effect in March, say it would help prevent voter fraud. But multiple reports have criticized it for obstructing people with limited means or mobility from getting the proper identification, which can multiple trips to state offices like the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Earlier this year, Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the process a maze.

“If you go through all of the trouble of navigating the maze, which may include several trips to PennDOT, and then at the end of the day you’re still stuck in the maze, then they let you get this ‘safety net’ Department of State ID,” Walczak told ABC News.

Zack Stalberg, head of Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan Pennsylvania voting rights group, told KYW-TV voters should still get the identification card despite the ruling, as it creates an uncertain situation for both officials and voters.

“It makes the chances of this being decided and well implemented by November less likely,” he said.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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