Voter ID Laws: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Asks Lower Court to Reconsider Decision
Sep 19, 2012 03:57 PM EDT
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court urged a lower state court to rethink its recent ruling to uphold a new state voter ID law, which requires an eligible voter to present either a state or non-state drivers' license or government employee identification at voting ballots.
The new law was put into place last March and was championed by the Republican-led legislature. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson upheld the law in a court decision in August. Now the State Supreme Court is asking Judge Simpson to reconsider his decision by October 2.
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Many critics of the law say that the law was intentionally made to detract minority voters, who are known to typically vote democrat. However, the high court's decision has little to do with the fact and more to do with the fact that the law will go into effect merely seven weeks before the 2012 Presidential Elections in November. The court argues that the mandate clashes with the constitutional right to vote.
In a ruling of 4-2 the court ruled, "We are confronted with an ambitious effort on the part of the General Assembly to bring the new identification procedure into effect within a relatively short timeframe and an implementation process which has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch," as reported by Reuters.
In the dissenting statement, Justice Debra Todd wrote, "The stated underpinnings of [the law] - election integrity and voter confidence - are undermined, not advanced, by this Court's chosen course...Seven weeks before an election, the voters are entitled to know the rules," as reported by the Christian Monitor.
Pennsylvania is not the only state in the nation facing similar voting related legislation; states such as Texas and South Carolina also possess such laws that require proof of voter eligibility at the ballots. The problem is not specifically the mandate for ID, according to the Christian Monitor, 17 states already have such voter ID requirements. The problem is the proclivity in the structure of the legislation that is particularly bias towards minority.
The lower state court has less than two weeks to decide if the legislation was designed to disenfranchise voters. Pennsylvania is a key swing vote state.