Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson was right to postpone the state’s controversial voter identification requirement, ordering the state not to enforce it in this year’s presidential election but allowing it to go into full effect next year.
The decision by Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. However, Simpson’s decision was based on guidelines given to him by the high court justices.
This should be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Simpson’s ruling on Tuesday came after listening to two days of testimony about the state’s last-minute efforts to make it easier to get a valid photo ID. He also heard about long lines and ill-informed clerk at driver’s license centers and identification requirements that made it hard for some registered voters to get a state-issued photo ID.
Plaintiff’s lawyers presented testimony of people who had encountered serious barriers in their efforts to get valid photo ID from state driver’s license centers.
The state’s 6-month old law has sparked a divisive debate over voter rights and become a high-profile issue in the contest between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, for the state’s 20 electoral votes.
The voter ID law was approved by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature and approved by the Republican governor, Tom Corbett.
Republicans said the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud. Yet Republicans did not show any evidence of voter fraud.
The voter ID law was unnecessary and rushing it into effect would have made it harder for young adults, the poor, minorities, seniors and the disabled to vote.
If the voter ID requirement was allowed in November there was strong probability of Election Day chaos.
The constitutionality of the law has not been settled by the courts. That’s a battle for another day.
The decision to halt the state’s new voter ID requirement was a victory for democracy.