A state judge’s ruling on Friday barred Pennsylvania’s strict voter identification law, in the latest chapter of an on-going fight between people concerned about voter restrictions and folks concerned about voter fraud.Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said that state’s voter ID law placed an “unreasonable burden” on some voters. (State officials are expected to appeal the decision.)
Link: Read the full ruling
“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal,” McGinley said.
“This Court holds that the photo ID provisions of the Voter ID Law violate the fundamental right to vote and unnecessarily burden the hundreds of thousands of electors who lack compliant photo ID,” Judge McGinley wrote in his 103-page opinion.
McGinley also said he found no evidence the law was passed with the intention of denying votes to Democrats, and that despite the law’s impact on the disadvantaged, it didn’t violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause.
But the law also promised to provide “liberal access” to the process of acquiring photo identification, which was an area where the state fell short.
“As a constitutional prerequisite, any voter ID law must contain a mechanism for ensuring liberal access to compliant photo IDs so that the requirement of photo ID does not disenfranchise valid voters,” McGinley said. “In the majority of its applications, the Voter ID Law renders Pennsylvania’s fundamental right to vote so difficult to exercise as to cause de facto disenfranchisement.”
Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was signed in March 2012 and the state’s governor, Tom Corbett, said it would cut down on fraud at the polls.
However, the law was the subject of heated legal challenges during the run-up to the November 2012 general elections.
In October 2012, Judge Robert Simpson put the law on hold, and 12 days of testimony were heard last summer about the controversy.
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