Last Updated:November 27 @ 07:11 pm

PA Voter ID law heads to state supreme court

By Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Strategies will shift as the first court battle over Pennsylvania's new law requiring voters to show valid photo identification heads to the state Supreme Court, while other legal hurdles could surface and political campaigns lumber toward the November election.

The law's Republican backers and, they say, the integrity of the Nov. 6 presidential election were the winners of Wednesday's decision by a state appellate judge to reject an injunction that would have halted the law from taking effect in November, as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality.

About a dozen rights groups and registered voters filed an appeal Thursday. Democrats say the law will trample the right to vote for countless people in an echo of the now-unconstitutional poll taxes and literacy tests once designed to discriminate against poor and minority voters.

The GOP-penned law, signed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in March and opposed by every Democratic lawmaker, has ignited a furious debate over voting rights in Pennsylvania, which is poised to play a starring role in deciding the presidential contest.

Lawyers are asking the state's highest court for a speedy review of the appeal, requesting that oral arguments be scheduled during the court's session in Philadelphia the week of Sept. 10.

At the state Supreme Court, votes by four justices would be needed to overturn Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's ruling. The high court is currently split between three Republicans and three Democrats following the recent suspension of Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican who is fighting criminal corruption charges.

A key focus on appeal is likely to be Simpson's decision to give strong deference to the government, rather than put a heavier legal burden on it to justify a law that opponents say infringes on a constitutional right.

"I don't know of any other state court that has ruled on photo ID that has applied such a low standard, that has protected the right to vote so little," said Penda Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that helped challenge the law.

In his 70-page opinion, Simpson said the federal courts and most state courts give the same kind of deference to the government when considering voter identification cases. But lawyers for the plaintiffs suggest that Pennsylvania's state constitution goes further than many of those state constitutions in extending protections to voting rights.

Simpson, a Republican, didn't rule on the full merits of the case, only whether to grant a preliminary injunction stopping it from taking effect. But he rejected the suit's claim that the law is unconstitutional and ruled that the challenge did not meet the stiff requirements to win an injunction.

Democrats say the law is a thinly veiled attempt to help the Republican presidential challenger, formerMassachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, beat President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Republicans, who for years have harbored suspicions of ballot-box stuffing in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia, say the law is a commonsense measure.

Republicans lauded Simpson's decision, while Democrats blasted it, and both parties sent out fundraising appeals spinning off Simpson's decision. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign had a lower-profile response, saying it would continue its efforts to register voters and educate them about the law, and it urged the state to follow through on its plan to make available free photo IDs to any registered voter who needs one.

State elections officials have until the middle of next week to supply information to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is looking at Pennsylvania's law and has moved to block voter ID laws in other states. Another lawsuit is pending from the state's second-most populous county, Allegheny County.

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8 Comments

  1. Bobby JohnComment by Bobby John
    August 17, 2012 @ 7:09 am

    Regarding citizens’ new voting-related requirements like I stated earlier, is the ‘sticking point’ – I totally agree with the politicians’ favoring this and their premise: that it is a fact that many, many poor, minority and senior citizens do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo ID.

    Most favor ID for voting, of course – that’s obvious. However, at the same time – filling out and signing a voting ballot with a valid address and the forms that locality sent to your home; is a most definitely a basic right that these governments owe to their citizens.

    By the same token, someone shouldn’t have to fork over a picture ID for the same municipalities to some elected autocratic dictatorial official; in order for the firefighters from that area to plug in and the.
    n turn on the hoses and put out the fire because y
    ou do not have valid and up-to-date home insurance photo ID.

    Or to pick up grandma when she keels over – just because a particular political party believes it is inconvenient or that you may not have your valid, paid-up and current health insurance card and a photo ID. That’s obvious. Most people would like everyone to have a valid insurance card. Making it the REQUIREMENT for service is unjust.

    Nobody is currently disputing that they NEED and ID for a more convenient life in our modern society. These affected people are nearly all; likely not showing their ID because they most often do not HAVE one available – not because of ‘the refusal to offer’ one – as is now being ‘required’ in more and more places.

    Additionally, not having the ability to have/carry any basic valid ID on you AT ALL can have other unintended (even dire) consequences as well. In our neighborhood an elderly man passed out in the street one time a while back and someone saw him and called an ambulance.

    He wasn’t from that area and evidently had absolutely nothing inside his wallet that identified exactly who he was or where he was from or most importantly in this case, who to contact in an emergency.

    Unfortunately, hospitals can actually do precious little for someone who finds themselves in this precarious type of situation – without being able to ascertain past medical information or the even knowing the persons name. In this case, the local TV station covered this and luckily his children came forward and were able to find him, thank goodness.

    If these affected citizens were potential voters were right-leaning voters, the Republicans would be sending interns as volunteers in stretch-limo bus service to their homes and offering to assist in pulling the voting levers for them. (lol)

    We should also offer their parents more assistance in obtaining ID. It is an undisputable it fact that many, many poor, minorities (and also ‘senior’ not-yet-citizens) do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo IDs for Non-Citizens.

    I believe that – as a society – we are we should also be very concerned about as well as possibly come to offer some more assistance to just about ‘anyone’ out there who does not actually have either the knowledge, financial means or the wherewithal to be able to apply for, keep and carry around a basic photo ID in the first place.

    One cannot even accomplish even very basic undertakings in our modern society; such as enter a bank and open an account or cash a check, register your children for school, apply for needed senior-related financial and medical government benefits and literally dozens of other basic things in the modern world without being able to produce a current (as well a legitimate) photo ID.

    Not having an ID can severely jeopardize a person’s ability to do many of these things – not to mention not being able to cast a ballot in states that require a citizen produce one beforehand. Therefore I think it would also be more prudent to place more of the emphasis on offering more assistance to these fine folks; as well as addressing their voting requirements.

    Additionally, I entirely agree that these laws are being enacted by those who have absolutely no concern whatsoever as to why the people have no ID at all… and that they are being entirely disingenuous, regarding the ‘proven to be fantasy’ claims of even the remote possibility these laughable proclamations regarding any rampant ‘multiple voter’ fraud.

    Making it the REQUIREMENT is that sticking point – these laws are being enacted by those who don’t care as to WHY the people have no ID at all. Their only concern that because those affected by the law do not vote for their party – and requiring ID is a way to deny them the ‘opportunity’ to vote for the other side.

    See the Truth Here – Site URL: to is http://tinyurl.com/​clqd2jc (that.pic tells the true story).

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    • nickster99Comment by nickster99
      August 17, 2012 @ 7:35 am

      I give your comment no rating. It should be the law in every state to produce a valid photo I.D. to be able to cast a vote! ANYBODY, ANYBODY no matter if they are poor or not can walk or take a bus to a polling place to vote. Then they can get someplace get an I.D. if they put forth the effort. If illegals can get phony SSS numbers they can get a photo I.D. And it should be a law that you should have to produce papers to show you are a legal U.S. citizen to be able to vote. My grandfather had to prove it after he became a legal citizen! And this was back in the 1920′s. It is time to get real in this country. There are too many illegals in this country to begin with. If they want to stay here then they should apply for citizenship! PERIOD!

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    • Texas PatriotComment by Texas Patriot
      August 17, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

      Would you please offer a suggestion as to how we can prevent dogs, cats, dead people, or cartoon characters from voting and choosing our nation’s leaders? Or do you feel those I mentioned have every right to vote?

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    • daylakyelComment by daylakyel
      August 17, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

      The biggest LIE in your post:
      “it is a fact that many, many poor, minority and senior citizens do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo ID.”
      Dems/Libs rants about all the “underlings” who can’t get a photo ID is pure BS – and you all know it.
      (Irony: EVERY person that wants to see Obama or Holder and ilk HAVE to produce an ID to get into the event. So apparently it is okay for BO & Fiends to shrug off these poor, pitiful people…)
      Photo IDs are very easily obtained in every state in the Union. If a person is too poor to afford one, there are places that provide them free.
      Now YOU prove that “fact” of yours that some people can’t obtain a photo ID….

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  3. newrepublicanComment by newrepublican
    August 17, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

    To Bobby John,
    You obviously aquired a companionship to Debbie Blebbermouth Schultz in your long winded defense of the indefensible … there will be NO ONE turned away from casting a vote if they do not possess a government picture photo ID … they will, simply and politely, be provided a PROVISIONAL BALLOT that will be held until their voter registry is validated then their vote will be counted. Why get lost in all these vague distortions and contortions??? Unless of course your intent is to commit fraud … which is the only valid use of your claims.

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  4. KAHR50Comment by KAHR50
    August 17, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    If Jeesee Jackson can run an entire organization to get ‘your souls to the polls’ then he can run a campaign to get their mugs to a photo center on the way.

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  5. ssgkenComment by ssgken
    August 17, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    Oh my Bobby John, has someone ever pulled the wool over your eyes. Your post sounds very liberal I might add. Bubba, I live in the great state of Georgia and we have to show a picture ID when voting. Also, if you can’t afford one the state will give you one free (that means no charge). Even at the voting registrar’s office I have to show my ID and everyone that works there are personal friends. I am glad that is the case because in our state we don’t have a lot of voter fraud, which is the reason for ID voting anyway. Already the demorats are attempting to register pets and children. As long as the liberals do everything wrong and hold back honesty, there will be no perfect voting in this country. Vote the big ‘O’ out. The Big ‘O’ Has Got To Go – November 6: Coming Soon To A Voting Booth Near You ! ! ! January 20, 2013 – The End Of An Error.

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  6. middlegroundComment by middleground
    August 17, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

    My 99 year old mother had no trouble with her photo ID. Oregon like most states has provisions for those elderly who have never driven, but she originally did have to present her father’s immigration papers and his and her citizenship papers to get a passport, as she was only 3 when she was brought to the US. Basically, if you want to vote, use a little effort to get the documentation you need.

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