Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday that the state wouldn’t appeal a recent ruling striking down a Republican-backed voter ID law. It’s the latest win for opponents of voter ID.
“The Commonwealth will not pursue an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the Commonwealth Court’s decision to enjoin Act 18’s photo identification mandate,” Corbett, a Republican, said in a statement.
A state judge ruled in January that the law, passed in 2012, violated the state constitution by imposing an unreasonable burden on the right to vote. The court found no evidence the law was necessary either to prevent fraud or to keep public confidence in the fairness of the election process.
“During the trial we heard the stories of numerous voters throughout the state who, despite their best efforts, were unable to get the identification that the now-invalidated voter ID law required of them to vote,” Marian Schneider, a senior attorney with the Advancement Project, a civil rights group that challenged the law, said in a statement. “This is not how a democracy should work. Today’s decision is a victory for keeping Pennsylvania elections free, fair and accessible for all voters.”
“We commend the governor for not continuing to push a dangerous and unnecessary law that would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters,” added Witold Walczak, the legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which also opposed the law.
Corbett, who polls suggest faces a tough re-election fight this fall, raised the idea of working with lawmakers to modify the law so that it could pass muster in the courts—but suggested it wasn’t a priority.
The governor’s decision is the latest victory for opponents of voter ID. A federal court in Wisconsin and a state court in Arkansas recently struck down voter ID laws in those states.
“The Administration will work with the General Assembly to address these issues,” he said. “However, through the current legislative term, we must remain focused on passing a balanced budget and addressing ongoing legislative priorities.”