Poll: Salisbury Reacts to Voter ID Decision
Will the decision on voter ID stick? Both sides had said they would appeal this ruling.
The Commonwealth Court ruled Wednesday morning not to stop Pennsylvania's controversial new voter identification law from going into effect.
Judge Robert Simpson, of Nazareth, Pa ., will not grant an injunction that would have halted the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID.
Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 presidential election fast approaches, according to the Associated Press.
The challenge to the law was brought by voter advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP.
Pennsylvania passed a law in March requiring all registered voters to show a valid and acceptable photo ID before voting. This is one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation.
Opponents of the law say it disproportionately targets the elderly as well as the poor and minorities, who typically vote Democrat. Furthermore, critics say that the burden of obtaining an acceptable ID for these people would keep them from voting.They add that preventing voter fraud is not a serious concern.
Patch columnist Margie Peterson conducted a recent experiment to see how long it would take to get a Voter ID card in Lehigh County.
Thirty states have some sort of Voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of those, 19 do not require a photo, six require a photo and five, including Pennsylvania, have strict photo requirements.
It’s unclear what this decision will actually mean, since both sides had vowed to appeal the judgement if it didn’t go their way.
Reaction Swift to Voter ID Decision
Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason applauded the ruling in a release, calling it courageous.
“Today is an important day for voters in the state of Pennsylvania as the Commonwealth Court’s ruling protects the integrity of our electoral process at every level – city, state and federal," he said.
Gleason lambasted partisan critics, saying they spread half-truths about the legislation. “Truly, it is time to move forward. The Commonwealth Court rightfully recognized that this law is not about the outcome of a single election or limiting voter participation. Rather, it is about ensuring that all votes that are properly cast are counted."
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn said the party has put programs in place to ensure that voters have the proper identification.
“Pennsylvania Democrats are committed to protecting Pennsylvanians' right to vote, and we will continue to educate voters about the new ID requirements and the process to acquire an appropriate ID to ensure that all eligible voters can get to the polls and exercise their right to vote in November,” he said in a release.
“For months, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party has implemented programs designed to ensure Pennsylvanians have the proper identification and we will continue our work as the legal process unfolds.
Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, said the law is “clearly a deliberate effort to disempower certain voters on behalf of other voters.”
Jennings cited Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s declaration at a GOP State Committee meeting in which Turzai said: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done.”
“This is a blantant effort as sinister as it is cynical to take away the most fundamental right we have as Americans,” Jennings said. “Unless the judge doesn’t understand the day-to-day travails of average people, it’s unimaginable that he could have come to that decision.”
Jennings said his organization works with people who don’t own cars and don’t have the kinds of jobs they can just leave to go “deal with government bureaucracy” to get an official voter ID.
“It’s the kind of thing that has led so many people to give up their faith in our democracy or the notion that they have any say in their government,” he said.
Rick Daugherty, chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Committee and Democratic candidate for the 15th Congressional District seat:
“My hope is that the state will make it easier to get Voter ID now that it will be required in November; specifically, if they can develop mobile Voter ID verification units that would allow people to get valid photo IDs and then to be able to have them at senior centers, health fairs, supermarkets, libraries and anywhere else that people gather.
“It think it’s important for the state to make an effort to make it easy for people to get a photo ID. The current system, where people have to go thru the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] ….is inadequate. My understanding is that the staff of the DMV is able to deal with what had been a regular work load and may not be able to handle the influx of people who need a photo ID to vote.
Wayne Woodman, chair of the Lehigh County Republican Committee:
"I’m delighted that Judge Simpson upheld the Voter ID law. I think it provides a protection of the franchise, and it is certainly a law that does not provide an undue burden on average folks who have to provide identification for many aspects of their lives every day, whether they're going to the doctor or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy or proving who they are when they present their credit cards. These are things that are done multiple times a day by virtually everyone."