The law, which requires voters to provide ID at the polls, was put on hold in an October 2012 ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who found that the state had not issued enough identifications to account for voters who could not produce documents.
The plaintiffs will ask Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley for both a preliminary injunction and a permanent ban on enforcement of the law, which was passed in March 2012 in a Republican-dominated state legislature.
A spokesperson for the governor’s Office of General Counsel, Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, defended the law to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, saying, “The reality is anybody who is an eligible voter and wants an ID can get one free of charge. That is liberal access and that’s the constitutional issue here.”
But in a statement released on Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing residents challenging the law, argued that not only is there little reason to believe the state would ever be able to provide enough ID cards for state voters, because it limited both access and information on how to obtain them.
“While the Commonwealth claims the new Department of State voter ID (DOS ID) is now ‘liberally’ available, the Commonwealth has distributed virtually no information to the public about how to obtain a DOS ID: what it is, where to get it, or that you can obtain a DOS ID even if PennDOT has refused you an ID in the past,” the ACLU’s statement read. “Many voters have been turned away from PennDOT without a DOS ID when they have tried to get one.”
Simpson, who initially rejected the ACLU’s lawsuit in August 2012 before reversing his decision, handed the case off to McGinley, while also admonishing attorneys on both sides of the case for behaving antagonistically.
A request by state Assistant Attorney General Timothy Keating that Simpson take part in an out-of-court mediation process was rejected by ACLU attorney Michael Rubin, who argued that his participation could lead to a conflict of interest if the case is appealed to a panel of three Commonwealth judges.
[Image: "Teen Girl Filling Out Mail-In Voter Registration Form. Shallow Depth Of Field With Focus On The Girl'S Face. Isolated On White." via Shutterstock]
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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