Pa. Voters Won’t Have to Show ID, but Poll Workers Can Still Ask For It

The situation's still complicated in Pennsylvania.

By Brentin Mock Oct 02, 2012

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson handed down a partial preliminary injunction on Act 18, the state’s photo voter ID law. According to lawyers close to the case — and from local media reports out of Pennsylvania — this means that a state-issued photo voter identification card will not be mandatory for voting for this November’s election.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports:

Simpson is postponing Pennsylvania’s tough new voter identification requirement, ordering that it not be enforced in the presidential election. Today’s ruling comes five weeks before the election. An appeal is possible.

Meanwhile, The Advancement Project, the civil rights law organization that is one of the petitioners listed on the case challenging the voter ID law, says that the ruling allows for poll workers to ask voters for ID, which could cause confusion.

"While we’re happy that voters in Pennsylvania will not be turned away if they do not have an ID, we are concerned that the ruling will allow election workers to ask for ID at the polls and this could cause confusion," said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. "This injunction serves as a mere Band-Aid for the law’s inherent problems, not an effective remedy."

Judge Simpson said during last week’s hearing that he anticipates his decision will be appealed back up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court either way. The state has not indicated whether it will appeal yet. Meanwhile, if the read on this ruling is correct, then voters will not be turned away from voting if they don’t have photo ID on them.

"We are very glad voters will not be turned away from the polls this November if they do have an ID," said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. "The evidence made it clear to the judge that this law would indeed disenfranchise voters and that the Commonwealth was not equipped to implement it fairly right now."

Check back in at Voting Rights Watch 2012 later for further analysis of the ruling. Meanwhile, yo can read the Judge’s ruling here:

Full full background on Pennsylvania’s voter ID law hearings, you can read here:

See Colorlines’ Brentin Mock discuss the Pennsylvania voter ID hearing on the Melissa Harris Perry show this past weekend:

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