September 17, 2012 - With federal and statewide elections around the corner, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking a hard look at the state's voter ID law. With few exceptions, the law requires PA voters to show a qualifying photo ID to get into the voting booth. Will it be effective on Tuesday, November 6th? That question was the focus of oral argument before the Commonwealth's High Court last week. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston presents a glimpse of the session. The hearing was broadcast by Pennsylvania Cable Network. Updates below...
Update September 18, 2012: In a quick decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sent the Voter ID case back to the state’s Commonwealth Court for more scrutiny. In an order entered today, the High Court set aside the initial ruling blocking the law and gave the lower court until October 2nd to consider more evidence and decide the case again. Is the state making new free photo ID cards available in a way that complies with the “liberal access” requirement of the law? That’s one of the key questions the lower court is expected to answer as it decides the short-term fate of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law, and what Pennsylvania voters can expect at the polls.
Update October 2, 2012: Today, the Commonwealth Court entered a temporary injunction blocking the law’s new photo ID requirement this coming election day.
On November 6th, Pennsylvania poll workers may ask for photo IDs, but the ballots of voters without them will still be counted. That’s because a Commonwealth Court judge blocked the part of the new law requiring voters without photo IDs to cast provisional ballots and then follow up within six days with their county election board. The judge decided that, if implemented now, the enforcement of the law’s provisional ballot rules would result in disenfranchisement.
The legal battle may continue. The judge set a status conference for December 13th to deal with issues relating to the opponents’ request to block the law permanently. The October 2nd ruling could be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.