Last Updated:November 28 @ 05:03 pm

Judge halts Pa.'s tough new voter ID requirement

By Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge on Tuesday blocked Pennsylvania's divisive voter identification requirement from going into effect on Election Day, delivering a hard-fought victory to Democrats who said it was a ploy to defeat President Barack Obama and other opponents who said it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said in his ruling that he was concerned by the state's stumbling efforts to create a photo ID that is easily accessible to voters and that he could not rely on the assurances of government officials at this late date that every voter would be able to get a valid ID.

If it stands, it is good news for Obama's chances in Pennsylvania, one of the nation's biggest electoral college prizes, unless Republicans and the tea party groups that backed the law find a way to use it to motivate their supporters and possibly independents.

Simpson's ruling could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, although state officials weren't ready to say Tuesday whether they would appeal. He based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

Simpson's ruling will allow the law to go into full effect next year, though he could still decide later to issue a permanent injunction.

Election workers will still be allowed to ask voters for a valid photo ID, but people without it can use a regular voting machine in the polling place and would not have to cast a provisional ballot or prove their identity to election officials afterward.

One lawyer for the plaintiffs called it a "win," while the Advancement Project, which aided the legal challenge, expressed concern that a new public education campaign would be needed to ensure people without photo ID know they can vote.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who helped champion the law, said the state's lawyers were still analyzing it.

The state's Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason, said he was disappointed and stressed that the law is a "common-sense reform" that is supported in public polling across the political spectrum.

"Despite the empty rhetoric to the contrary, this legislation is still about ensuring one person, one vote," Gleason said.

In a statement, the Obama campaign said the decision means that "eligible voters can vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections in the state. "

Simpson's ruling came after listening to two days of testimony about the state's eleventh-hour efforts to make it easier to get a valid photo ID. He also heard about long lines and ill-informed clerks at driver's license centers and identification requirements that made it hard for some registered voters to get a state-issued photo ID.

The 6-month-old law - now among the nation's toughest - has sparked a divisive debate over voting rights and become a high-profile political issue in the contest between Obama, a Democrat, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes.

It was already a political lightning rod when a top state Republican lawmaker boasted to a GOP dinner in June that the ID requirement "is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."

Pennsylvania, traditionally considered one of the most valuable presidential swing states, is showing a persistent lead for Obama in independent polls. Pollsters had said Pennsylvania's identification requirement could mean that fewer people ended up voting and, in the past, lower turnouts have benefited Republicans in Pennsylvania.

But Democrats have used their opposition to the law as a rallying cry, turning it into a valuable tool to motivate volunteers and campaign contributions while other opponents of the law, including labor unions, good government groups, the NAACP, AARP and the League of Women Voters, hold voter education drives and protest rallies.

The law was a signature accomplishment of Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature and Corbett. Republicans, long suspicious of ballot-box stuffing in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia, justified it as a bulwark against any potential election fraud.

Every Democratic lawmaker voted against it. Some accused Republicans of using old-fashioned Jim Crow tactics to steal the White House from Obama. Other opponents said it would make it harder for young adults, minorities, the elderly, poor and disabled to vote.

A wave of new voter identification requirements have been approved in the past couple years, primarily by Republican-controlled Legislatures.

Earlier this year, a federal court panel struck down Texas' voter ID law, and a state court in Wisconsin has blocked its voter ID laws for now. The Justice Department cleared New Hampshire's voter ID law, and a federal court is reviewing South Carolina's law.


Associated Press writer Peter Jackson contributed to this story.

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  1. billwvComment by billwv
    October 2, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    This ‘judge’ knows that dogs, dead people, illegal aliens, and voting multiple times by one individual would be impossible with this law in effect; sooooo he halts the law so that Ozero can benefit from the ‘non-legal’ votes.
    Makes you wonder at times what this ‘sick’ judiciary is about and when the American people will get fully fed up with these ‘huckster barrists’.

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (20 votes cast)
  2. capricorn1Comment by capricorn1
    October 2, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    we have sat around on our collective arses and let this happen to our country,politicians who make law after law to isolate and protect themselves from we the people,and now we have liberal socialist borderline communist judges at every level.and so there you have it my friends we are ********* to the max.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (15 votes cast)
    • syjereComment by syjere
      October 3, 2012 @ 1:03 am

      I just called my congressman and senator yesterday explaining that ‘congress shall make no law ‘ that it is exempted from, and that the legislature has ‘separate but equal’ power that they NEED TO START UTILIZING. We’ve got a criminal syndicate running this country. Needless to say, I’m not surprised there’s a bunch of criminal judges to go along with it..after all, they’re appointed by these lunatics. I’m telling you, if I wind up in front of a judge like this, there’s only one place I’ll be going afterwards, and that’s JAIL.I intend to call out corruption every single time I see it, and I don’t give a sh!t WHO YOU ARE. #EndRant

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  3. prairelivingComment by praireliving
    October 2, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

    Why don’t they require people who vote in Pennsylvania who don’t have ID to at least have their finger dipped in an indelible ink that would wear off in a few days (they can get this ink in a number of thrid world countries where this is the norm for voters)?

    If the ‘no voter ID’ people are so worried about people not getting the chance to vote this should cause no alarm. Now, if they are hoping to bring people to numerous polling places to allow them to vote multiple times it might kindof mess with that plan. Probably then each person could only vote two times…once by absentee and then at a polling place.

    Anyone who doesn’t think voter fraud in the form of multiple votes doesn’t happen is wrong. How is it that in Dane County in Wisconsin (where Madison happens to be located) when Gov. Walker’s recall election took place the turnout was 112%?

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    • pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
      October 2, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

      Sounds like a plan to me. I should imagine the ink is harmless. What do you do for absentee voters though? The ink would probably wear off before the regular election. Of course voting on different days would require a little more effort than being bussed poll to poll on the same day.

      They can talk on their Obama phones while they cruise around the state in the party bus.

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    • prairelivingComment by praireliving
      October 2, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

      txgoatlady…I agree, it doesn’t completely solve the problem but at least we could probably get them down to two votes each (one absentee and one at the polls).

      The whole ‘it is too hard to get ID’ thing is crazy. My grandmother got a photo ID when my grandfather died since she didn’t drive and wanted the senior discount on the bus. She went to the DMV, got a ‘non-drivers’ license’ and she was good to go for the rest of her life. If she could do it with the documents she had…she was born at home in the very early 1900s…then it seems to me anyone can. Frankly I think the whole thing is a sham since most people need ID already. You need it for social security, to cash a check, to write a check, to get any other government benefits, to go to a hospital or doctor, in many cases to walk into a federal building, to buy liquor or cigarettes, to check into a hotel, to get a discount on the bus, etc. (you get the idea) pretty much doing anything these days.

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  4. Jayne NielsenComment by Jayne Nielsen
    October 2, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    And what about Obama’s corrupt Administration’s “ploy” to defeat Mitt Romney by attempting to block Absentee Ballots going to all our active Military members??? As of right now Absentee Ballots are down 92% from 2008 because this pig sty of an Administration has done everything in their power to not accommodate the voting rights of our active Military members.

    Has any Liberal news/cable networks reported on this? Hell no! And these Liberal judges have to go as well. This is why this election is much more important than just burying Obama. Many Supreme Court Justices will be retiring in the next four years and we CANNOT allow Obama to appoint radical far left Marxists to that court!

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    • hpinncComment by hpinnc
      October 2, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

      Blocking absentee ballots for the military is OK,That will help the democrats too.Anything that helps obama is OK.You can rest assured if getting these ballots out to the military would be to obama’s advantage,he would personally load down Air Force 1 & hand deliver them personally.The reason they don’t want voter ID is it makes it harder to commit voter fraud. I say anyone that says its too complicated to get an id,are too stupid to be voting anyway.

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  5. hjb2730Comment by hjb2730
    October 2, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

    But they want / demand picture ID at their own DNC convention !
    This speaks volumes about their honesty . Do as I say not as I do !

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  6. Jim ForsytheComment by Jim Forsythe
    October 2, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    These legal jerks should be impeached! It is clear that they are trying to help promote voter fraud to help the corrupt administration seize control of the country for another four years. It is time to stop these sleazebags. Note: None of this corrupt judiciary is interested in making sure that the military gets their vote.

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  7. powertothepeopleComment by powertothepeople
    October 2, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    I can’t fly with out a picture ID but voting can be done with any BS non-photo ID! What a country! And we send observers to other nations to observe their election process to insure its fair…yea right….and pigs fly baby!

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  8. thomasjeffersonComment by thomasjefferson
    October 2, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    First off, federal courts have no business telling states how to handle their voting standards. Second, if you are not required to have an I.D. to vote, the state government has no business requiring you to have an I.D. to drive, buy beer, buy cigarettes, guy a gun, drink in a bar, cash a check, open a bank account, purchase a home, rent an apartment, get welfare, food stamps, walk into the whitehouse, go to an obama function, get on an aircraft, or any of the other myriad of other things that you are required to have an I.D. for. You can not live in this country without an I.D.. You would have to have someone house you, feed you and you would never be able to leave your home. Try telling a cop you don’t have an I.D. and see how fast you end up in jail.

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  9. Bill from MiddletownComment by Bill from Middletown
    October 3, 2012 @ 5:26 am

    Well, of course voter ID laws prevent minorities from voting! After all, they are inferior to whites and cannot be held to the same standards.

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  10. gavinwcaComment by gavinwca
    October 3, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    Pennsylvania legislature you are the voice of the people do you job for once , impeach this idiot judge.

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  11. titanbellComment by titanbell
    October 3, 2012 @ 9:50 am

    The federal government should not be involved in states voting laws. How many states has Holder sued to this point? Why has he not been put in jail to this point? And by the way; The NCAAP has sent out millions of postage prepaid voter registration forms and guess what? YOU MUST HAVE A VALID DRIVERS LICENSE OR ID CARD TO REGISTER. Go figure!

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  12. maximusprime1Comment by maximusprime1
    October 6, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    Indiana already had their voter ID law go the SCOTUS and the state WON and SCOTUS said it was legal.
    WHY to the other states judges get to shoot it down??

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