Judge Puts Pa.'s Voter-ID Law on Hold

Voters won't have to produce government-issued photo ID  to cast ballots in the upcoming election, but they can be asked for it. Voting-rights victory or "Band-Aid for the law's inherent problems"?

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Thanks to a ruling (pdf) by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the state's controversial new strict photo-identification requirement for voting, people who live in the state will be allowed to cast ballots in the upcoming election without producing government-issued photo ID, the Associated Press reports.

The law at issue is one of several across the country that impose new requirements on voters, eliminate early voting or provide for the purging of voter rolls. Republicans generally argue that the laws are necessary to prevent fraud, while Democrats say that they intentionally disenfranchise certain parts of the electorate -- the poor, minorities and the elderly in particular.  

But the decision in this case didn't have to address what many argue are the cynical political motivations for the restrictions. Rather, the judge's decision to issue a preliminary injunction against the law followed days of testimony about the state's efforts to get ID into the hands of voters before Election Day. In short, he said they weren't going to work. Simpson wrote, "I cannot conclude the proposed changes cure the deficiency in liberal access [to IDs] identified by the Supreme Court."

However, the ruling that voters aren't required to produce identification doesn't mean they can't be asked for it. Simpson specifically said he would "not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls."

That element of the decision didn't go over well with the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization that is a plaintiff in the case. "While we're happy that voters in Pennsylvania will not be turned away if they do not have an ID, we are concerned that the ruling will allow election workers to ask for ID at the polls and this could cause confusion," said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. "This injunction serves as a mere Band-Aid for the law's inherent problems, not an effective remedy."

Read more at the Associated Press.

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