A visit to a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID may be very difficult for the elderly and the poor, and as a result they may drop from the voters’ rolls.
Striking down the voter ID law was an important step in securing voters’ rights in Pennsylvania.
The well reasoned opinion of Judge Herman McGinley overturning the voter identification law takes effect subject to the high likelihood of an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That Court’s 2012 ruling withheld decision on the merits of the law, instead questioning the practical impact on voters. So there is no foretelling the result in the coming appeal.
Meanwhile, the next battle to defeat the wishes of the voting public is Governor Corbett’s proposal to award Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in presidential elections on the basis of the tally by Congressional district.
More after the jump.
As a result of the very successful gerrymander of those districts, Republicans cast less than half the votes statewide yet elected 13 out of 18 of our state Congressional delegation in 2012. According to analysts, despite the fact that President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points in 2012, he probably would have won only 7 of the state’s 20 electoral votes if this vote rigging plan had been in effect.
The problem with the voter ID law is that many people, particularly the poor and the elderly, have no driver’s license. A visit to a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID may be very difficult for them, and as a result they may drop from the voters’ rolls.
The very detailed and careful opinion of Judge McGinley of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court permanently enjoined the voter identification law that has been challenged in court for almost two years.
The primary thrust of this law is to require picture identification, such as a driver’s license, for any registered voter to be able to cast a ballot. This voter ID law is one of many adopted across the country, primarily by state legislatures with Republican majorities.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court received the case on motion to enjoin operation of the law temporarily, before any final trial on the merits. Acting just before the 2012 presidential election, the Court enjoined the law and sent the case back to Commonwealth Court to determine whether it places an illegal burden on the right to vote, particularly as regards people who cannot readily visit a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID.
At trial the plaintiffs presented calculations that as many as 400,000 Pennsylvania voters might find it difficult or practically impossible to qualify for the necessary photo ID. The Administration argued, in support of the law, that it is justified to address potential voter fraud. But no significant evidence of voter fraud was presented.
Judge McGinley sifted through the many problems that would-be voters, are likely to have in trying to secure the necessary photo ID. Various efforts at curative patches put up by the Corbett Administration were rejected either as unsatisfactory to solve the problem, or as unauthorized under the law. The court ruled that the difficulties imposed on many citizens amounted to a deprivation of their right to vote.
Unfortunately, the battle against suppressing voters’ rights in Pennsylvania is not over.