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Pa. Supreme Court Calls for Voter ID Do-Over

The Pa. Supreme Court neither upheld nor threw out the state’s new Voter ID requirement. Instead, in a win for the law’s opponents, the 6 justices instructed a lower court to redo an earlier ruling that kept the law in place.

At issue is not the underlying question over whether the state can require ID. Rather, it’s the question of how quickly the state can accommodate prospective voters who presently lack ID.

Critics of the legislation argued that many Pa. citizens who are Constitutionally eligible to vote would be disenfranchised due to the onerous process of obtaining valid photo identification. The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that those concerns were paramount, and that a Commonwealth Court Judge who has upheld the law needed to look further into the availability of ID. They vacated, or nullified, the Judge’s earlier decision upholding the law.

4 of 6 Justices voted to remand the lower Court’s decision, while 2 Justices wanted the law stricken down outright.

While the law is not inherently unconstitutional, the higher Court issued an unsigned order saying that the 2012 election may be too soon for it to take effect:

Overall, we are confronted with an ambitious effort on the part of the General Assembly to bring the new identification procedure into effect within a relatively short timeframe and an implementation process which has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch. Given this state of affairs, we are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials, even though we have no doubt they are proceeding in good faith.

It’s all about the implementation, which the Court says is the key disagreement:

Given reasonable voter education efforts, reasonably available means for procuring identification, and reasonable time allowed for implementation, the Appellants apparently would accept that the State may require the presentation of an identification card as a precondition to casting a ballot.

The Commonwealth Court has until October 2 to render a new verdict. A split decision on the law itself would have resulted in the law being upheld.

6 Responses

  1. The State of Pennsylvania, once again becomes national discussion and ridicule for its lack of leadership on all levels from Governor to judges. Of course the public knew that no decision would be made by anyone on the State Supreme Court, that would strike down this blatant law to supress voting, because their all on the side of the Republican agenda to elect Romney, no matter what ! I for one am ashamed to be a citizen of a state so politically “crooked”! More fodder for all the talk shows, to point out the incompetance and shady dealings going on in our state government!

  2. When a student faces expulsion from school, the student has a right to appeal. This is because students have a right to an education, and there must be good reason to deprive the student of that right.

    Yet when a voter faces the prospect of losing the right to vote — a fundamental right under the Constitution — no such protection applies. There’s something wrong with this picture.

    All of the problems with the voter ID law can be remedied, and the plaintiffs agreed that the legislature has the power to regulate elections. It’s pretty obvious by now, though, that the rush to implement this law is trampling on many citizens’ right to vote. The court was unanimous in finding this unacceptable, which is hardly a partisan conclusion.

  3. The requirements and procedures for obtaining the photo id have been changed so many times during the past three months that it is clearly indicative that neither the General Assembly, the Governor, or his State Elections Office knew what they were doing. They’ve been winging it for months.

    The General Assembly should have enacted this in early 2011, in the first year of it’s session so that a uniform, consistent, reliable program for qualified registered voters to obtain the required ID could be designed and implemented in an efficient and affective manner.

    Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead we have a bunch of Keystone Kops running a FUBAR process.

  4. When you make an allegation, you need proof. You claim there’s voter impersonation, but the state government admitted in open court that there’s no proof of voter impersonation.

    Let’s call this what it is – a nakedly partisan attempt to create obstacles to voting for the people most likely to vote Democratic because Republicans in this state are outnumbered and dwindling.

  5. The PA Supreme Court: Profiles In Courage

    I hope Simpson takes one day, says “I already considered this” and keeps the law.

    I don’t even care about the law anymore, but if the Supreme Court wanted to strike down the law, it should have.

    Simpson wrote a long and reasoned opinion as to his decision that the Supremes were supposed to review/decide upon. Simpson should say: I did this review already, my original opinion stands.

    The PA Supreme Court is now the MOST political body in our state — with Ron Castille cutting every deal he can to stay Chief Justice. What a sad state of affairs, and what a joke.

  6. The sheer lunacy of the battle to protect vote fraud continues unabated, as CBS News reports “Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday told a lower court judge to stop a tough new law requiring voters to show photo identification from taking effect in this year’s presidential election if he finds voters cannot get easy access to ID cards or if he thinks voters will be disenfranchised.”

    In other words, the lower court judge, Robert Simpson – who already denied an injunction to keep the voter ID law from going into effect – has been instructed to try again, and think real hard until he comes up with a rationale for blocking the law. Simpson already considered questions of “disenfranchisement,” but he’ll have to reconsider until he comes up with the answer leftist groups want to hear.

    The marquee case of cruel “disenfranchisement” in Pennsylvania, 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, cheerfully popped out and picked up her voter ID card the day after Judge Simpson handed down his ruling. Another “hard case” cited in the CBS report, a different 93-year-old woman named Bea Booker, complained that she was “too infirmed to travel to a driver’s license center to get an ID.” Well, then how the heck is she going to vote? Oh, that’s right: absentee ballot. Which does not require a photo ID.

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