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Pennsylvania Court Enjoins Voter ID Law

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Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson announced today that he was enjoining enforcement of Pennsylvania's voter identification law, known as Act 18. Unless that ruling is overturned before November 6, election workers will not be able to stop anyone from voting for lack of identification (they can still ask for identification, for what it's worth).
The ruling means that voter fraud will be that much easier to pull off in Pennsylvania. Naturally it's being hailed as a "victory" by liberal groups eager to keep a swing state in the Democratic column.

In reality, though, this ruling doesn't touch the merits of the law. Judge Simpson's hand was forced by a state supreme court order that he had to block the law unless he was satisfied that not a single eligible voter would be barred from voting for lack of identification. Thus, Judge Simpson mechanically held that he could not guarantee "that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election."

On the merits of this case, the last word is still Judge Simpson's August ruling in which he refused to enjoin the law, finding the plaintiffs did not have a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claim. That is surely correct - the Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID requirement in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and the Georgia Supreme Court upheld that state's law. The notion that Act 18 puts an "undue burden" on voting rights is preposterous. The law allows voters to use any photo ID issued by any federal, state, or municipal agency -- even a state university ID. And, once again, if a voter shows up without an ID, he or she can still cast a provisional ballot, which will count - provided the voter can produce identification within 6 days.

Ultimately, the law should be upheld, but that will take place long after the November election.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.