Judge rules Pennsylvania voter ID law can't be enforced for this year's election

Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ordered the state early Tuesday morning not to enforce its tough voter-ID law for this year’s presidential election, The Associated Press reports

This is the second time that Simpson has ruled on the law.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Aug. 15, he upheld the law in a 70-page decision on the basis that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that it would result in “immediate or inevitable” disenfranchisement of the elderly and minorities, the two groups that have the hardest time obtaining appropriate voter ID, according to the law’s detractors.

The plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, appealed the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is currently split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats. The Supreme Court sent the case back to Simpson in a 4-2 decision, ordering him to review his ruling regarding the element of disenfranchisement. After two days of testimony, Simpson issued his decision. The question of the law’s constitutionality was not at issue in the case, and the law could still go into effect next year.

Though the case could once again be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, this might be the final say on the law before the election a mere five weeks away.

The law was originally passed in March by the Republican-controlled Legislature without a single vote from Democrats, and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett (R). Democrats have argued that it represents an attempt to suppress minorities and other groups; Republicans have defended the law, arguing that it was necessary to protect the principle of one person, one vote.

The Pennsylvania ruling is the latest in a series of rulings on voter ID laws in multiple states. Wisconsin and Texas have had similar laws halted; Indiana, Georgia and New Hampshire all have seen their laws upheld against legal challenges.

More in Senate

Team Rubio: Jeb won't push us out of 2016

Read more »