Court rules to sus­pend voter ID law for Novem­ber elec­tion

North Penn Life - - NEWS - By Linda Finarelli lfinarelli@mont­gomerynews.com

All reg­is­tered Penn­syl­va­nia vot­ers will be al­lowed to vote in the Nov. 6 elec­tion un­der a rul­ing is­sued Tues­day by Com­mon­wealth Court Judge Robert Simp­son.

Simp­son did not strike down the con­tro­ver­sial voter ID law, but ruled that the Novem­ber elec­tion could go for­ward in the same man­ner as the spring pri­mary elec­tion this year. Poll work­ers can ask for photo ID, but the law will be sus­pended for the Nov. 6 elec­tion, mean­ing those who do not have a valid photo ID will be able to vote.

A trial on the mer­its of the law as a whole will not take place un­til af­ter the elec­tion, the re­sults of which will de­ter­mine whether the law stands per­ma­nently, ac­cord­ing to the mem­o­ran­dum opin­ion.

Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­man Josh Shapiro said Tues­day that he was “en­cour­aged by Judge Simp­son’s rul­ing that those peo­ple who can’t get an ID can still vote in this elec­tion,” but the county will go for­ward with us­ing the county se­nior care cen­ter to is­sue valid voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards.

“We ex­pect that Simp­son’s rul­ing will be ap­pealed,” Shapiro said. “Given that un­cer­tainty, it is im­por­tant that we move for­ward to en­sure ev­ery Mont­gomery County reg­is­tered voter who needs an ID can get one.”

Em­ploy­ees of the county nurs­ing home will be go­ing to var­i­ous lo­ca­tions throughout the county to is­sue free IDs to those who need them from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6.

Simp­son had ini­tially ruled against is­su­ing an in­junc­tion to block im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law, but the state Supreme Court sent the mat­ter back to him, ba­si­cally stat­ing he would have to is­sue an in­junc­tion if he de­ter­mined that any voter would be dis­en­fran­chised un­der the law.

While not­ing con­tin­ued ef­forts by the state to change the re­quire­ments for ob­tain­ing a valid photo ID, Simp­son wrote that with the pro­posed changes oc­cur­ring about five weeks be­fore the elec­tion, “I ques­tion whether suf­fi­cient time now re­mains to at­tain the goal of lib­eral ac­cess.”

“I am still not con­vinced … that there will be no voter dis­en­fran­chise­ment aris­ing out of the com­mon­wealth’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of a voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ment for pur­poses of the up­com­ing elec­tion,” Simp­son wrote. “Un­der these cir­cum­stances, I am obliged to en­ter a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.”

In his opin­ion, Simp­son states he does not find the law it­self dis­en­fran­chises vot­ers, but that “the dis­en­fran­chise­ment ex­pressly oc­curs dur­ing the pro­vi­sional bal­lot part of the in- per­son vot­ing process.”

The pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion is lim­ited to the up­com­ing elec­tion. A con­fer­ence re­gard­ing a chal­lenge to the en­tire Act 18 will be held Dec. 13, af­ter which a sched­ule will be is­sued for a trial on the ap­pli­ca­tion for a per­ma­nent in­junc­tion, ac­cord­ing to the mem­o­ran­dum is­sued.

The Repub­li­can- backed voter ID law was passed in March and has been chal­lenged by Democrats. Re­ac­tion to Simp­son’s rul­ing, like the pas­sage of the bill, fell along party lines.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Mike Turzai, a Repub­li­can from Al­legheny County, said in a state­ment that the judge’s de­ci­sion “up­holds Act 18, and voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, and that is good.”

“Voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion is about en­sur­ing the in­tegrity of our elec­tions and pre­serv­ing the prin­ci­ple of the ‘one per­son, one vote’ doc­trine,” Turzai said. “The fact is, the elec­tion in­tegrity pro­vi­sions that have passed the House have been to pre­serve the right of ev­ery ci­ti­zen who is en­ti­tled to vote to be able to vote, and ev­ery ci­ti­zen who votes should be sure that his or her vote has not been di­luted by some­body else’s fraud.”

State Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-153, is­sued a state­ment fol­low­ing the rul­ing, say­ing she would continue to ad­vo­cate for a full re­peal of the law.

“I am re­lieved that the court has rec­og­nized what we have known all along: that this law would dis­en­fran­chise thou­sands of vot­ers from ex­er­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tional right to vote in this elec­tion,” she said.

The rul­ing “sim­ply de­lays im­ple­men­ta­tion of this mis­guided law un­til the next elec­tion,” Dean added. “This is a bad law that seeks to sup­press a fun­da­men­tal right, and I am re­dou­bling my ef­forts to re­peal.”

For a com­plete list of lo­ca­tions through Mont­gomery County to ob­tain an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, visit NorthPen­nLife. com.

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