Pennsylvania voter ID law struck down

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, among the nation’s most stringent, was struck down Friday morning by a state judge.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley ruled that the law, requiring almost all voters to present photo identification prior to voting, was an unreasonable burden on voters. 

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He said the free voter ID that residents were entitled to under the law was insufficiently available, only at 71 drivers license centers located across the state. Several counties had no such centers and others were only open two days a week, leading McGinley to rule that the law “unnecessarily burden[s] the hundreds of thousands of electors who lack compliant photo ID.”

McGinley also said the state failed to demonstrate the law was necessary to preserve the integrity of elections, as they “wholly failed to show any evidence of in-person voter fraud” either occurring or being in imminent danger of occurring.

The law was signed in March 2012 by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) after overcoming unanimous Democratic opposition in the state legislature. Democrats argued the law was an effort to suppress turnout by minorities and other Democratic-leaning groups, while Republicans claimed the law improved the security of elections.

Scheduled to take effect for the 2012 election, the law was put on hold by a different state judge shortly beforehand and has been held up in the courts ever since. The case’s 12-day trial was conducted last summer, with groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People arguing on behalf of 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, who claimed she would be unable to meet the law’s requirements to obtain a photo ID.

The state vowed in advance to appeal any negative ruling, meaning the case’s next stop will be the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.