Pennsylvania voter ID law survives first court challenge

Updated

On Wednesday morning, a Pennsylvania judge declined to grant a preliminary injunction on Pennsylvania’s controversial Voter ID law, meaning that it remains on the books for now. The plaintiffs—including 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and the state’s ACLU chapter—will now appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

In his ruling [PDF], Judge Robert Simpson acknowledged those “burdened by the voter ID requirement,” but said, “At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel.” Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate, he said, that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law requires voters to present election officials with at least one of several types of government-issued identification. If they fail to bring the proper ID to the polling place, they are barred from voting. Proponents of the law say that it will prevent voter impersonation, though research shows that this form of fraud is virtually nonexistent in the United States.

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a Republican, has lauded the passage of the law because it could “allow Governor Romney to win Pennsylvania.” The law could disenfranchise as many as 1.4 million Pennsylvanians—most of them from traditionally Democratic-voting constituencies like African Americans and students.

“I just can’t believe it,” said Applewhite, in a statement released by the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Too many people have fought for the right to vote to have it taken away like this. All I want is to be able to vote this November like I always have. This law is just ridiculous.”

Earlier this month, Lean Forward’s Evan Puschak and Alex P. Kellogg traveled to Pennsylvania and asked residents for their take on the law.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania voter ID law survives first court challenge

Updated