Pa. Voter-ID Law Sent Back to Lower Court

It's a "big step in the right direction" for those who believe strict identification requirements could lead to disenfranchisement.

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On Tuesday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court returned the state's new, strict Republican-backed voter-ID law to the lower court for more hearings to determine whether there's any way the law can be implemented without disenfranchising citizens who don't have the photo ID it would require in order to cast a ballot. (Read the Washington Post's story on voters' efforts to obtain the necessary ID before the election here.)

The majority instructed the lower-court judge, who had earlier ruled that the state could get the needed photo identification to voters who now lack it in time for the election, to re-evaluate the facts.

If the commonwealth can't make the case that voters will not be disenfranchised by having to produce appropriate ID at the polls, then an injunction against the law must be issued before the election, the court ruled.

Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair called the decision "a big step in the right direction for the commonwealth's voters," saying, "The lower court must now examine the actual availability of the ID card, which we already know has been difficult for voters to get. America stands for equality, a nation where every citizen can raise their voice in the ballot box. Pennsylvania's restrictive voter-ID law stands in the way of voters being able to exercise that right."

Meanwhile, 14 members of Congress, led by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), have introduced a bill to combat what they say are countrywide voter-suppression efforts. The America Votes Act of 2012, H.R. 6419, will allow voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity if they do not have the identification documents required at their polling place.

"The America Votes Act of 2012 is a commonsense bill that protects the ability of American citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote," said Larsen. "There are more recorded instances of exploding toilets and shark attacks than there are of in-person voting fraud. The story of our nation is one of extending the right to vote irrespective of race or gender. We must not allow the United States to move backward to our dark history of voter intimidation and suppression."

Read more at the Washington Post.

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