Judge rules against voting rights in Pennsylvania

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In a defeat for voting rights advocates, Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson upheld the state's right-wing voter ID law, which prevents 750,000 voters from casting ballots next November.

Though the right-wing backers of the voter ID law were not able to cite even one case of voter impersonation in Pennsylvania, the judge said he "didn't rule on the full merits of the case," but limited his considerations to "whether it was a proper exercise of the legislature's authority."

Originally, Republicans had claimed that the motivation for their voter ID law was the desire to prevent election fraud.

Their main argument before the judge, however, was that lawmakers properly exercised their latitude to make election laws when they chose to require voters to show "widely available" forms of photo ID.

The AFL-CIO issued a statement condemning the ruling. "It's crystal clear who is behind these and why they want them passed," the federation said. "The Republican Majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives illustrated that so directly - saying that the voter ID law 'is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.'"

The AFL-CIO said the laws are being pushed "for partisan reasons to disenfranchise particular groups of voters. They are cynical and wrong, and they undermine our democracy."

According to a study by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, one in ten eligible voters - overwhelmingly the elderly, minorities, students, and new citizens - lack a government-issued photo ID and could be disenfranchised under these new voter suppression laws.

Given this, the federation said, "The judge's ruling that disenfranchisement in Pennsylvania is neither 'immediate' or 'inevitable' defies reality. The ruling must be reversed on appeal."

Voting rights advocates plan to appeal the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which will likely issue its own ruling before the November election. There is currently an even 3-3 split between Democrats and Republicans on the court, the 7th member, Republican Joan Orie Melvin, is under suspension because of a corruption scandal.

Since Simpson ruled to uphold the law, Democrats will need one crossover vote to win a majority and strike down the law. Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a moderate Republican, is considered as likely to cross over and side with Democrats.

Photo: Flickr

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  • Re: "No Ticket - No Laundry!" Voting Requirements

    Regarding citizens' new voting-related requirements like I stated earlier, is the 'sticking point' - I totally agree with the politicians' favoring this and their premise: that it is a fact that many, many poor, minority and senior citizens do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo ID.

    Most favor ID for voting, of course - that's obvious. However, at the same time - filling out and signing a voting ballot with a valid address and the forms that locality sent to your home; is a most definitely a basic right that these governments owe to their citizens.

    By the same token, someone shouldn't have to fork over a picture ID for the same municipalities to some elected autocratic dictatorial official; in order for the firefighters from that area to plug in and then turn on the hoses and put out the fire because you do not have valid and up-to-date home insurance photo ID.

    Or to pick up grandma when she keels over - just because a particular political party believes it is inconvenient or that you may not have your valid, paid-up and current health insurance card and a photo ID. That's obvious. Most people would like everyone to have a valid insurance card. Making it the REQUIREMENT for service is unjust.

    Nobody is currently disputing that they NEED and ID for a more convenient life in our modern society. These affected people are nearly all; likely not showing their ID because they most often do not HAVE one available - not because of 'the refusal to offer' one - as is now being 'required' in more and more places.

    Additionally, not having the ability to have/carry any basic valid ID on you AT ALL can have other unintended (even dire) consequences as well. In our neighborhood an elderly man passed out in the street one time a while back and someone saw him and called an ambulance.

    He wasn't from that area and evidently had absolutely nothing inside his wallet that identified exactly who he was or where he was from or most importantly in this case, who to contact in an emergency.

    Unfortunately, hospitals can actually do precious little for someone who finds themselves in this precarious type of situation - without being able to ascertain past medical information or the even knowing the persons name. In this case, the local TV station covered this and luckily his children came forward and were able to find him, thank goodness

    If these affected citizens were potential voters were right-leaning voters, the Republicans would be sending interns as volunteers in stretch-limo bus service to their homes and offering to assist in pulling the voting levers for them. (lol)

    We should also offer their parents more assistance in obtaining ID. It is an undisputable it fact that many, many poor, minorities (and also 'senior' not-yet-citizens) do not have; and therefore cannot produce even a basic photo IDs for Non-Citizens.

    I believe that - as a society - we are we should also be very concerned about as well as possibly come to offer some more assistance to just about 'anyone' out there who does not actually have either the knowledge, financial means or the wherewithal to be able to apply for, keep and carry around a basic photo ID in the first place.

    One cannot even accomplish even very basic undertakings in our modern society; such as enter a bank and open an account or cash a check, register your children for school, apply for needed senior-related financial and medical government benefits and literally dozens of other basic things in the modern world without being able to produce a current (as well a legitimate) photo ID.

    Not having an ID can severely jeopardize a person's ability to do many of these things - not to mention not being able to cast a ballot in states that require a citizen produce one beforehand. Therefore I think it would also be more prudent to place more of the emphasis on offering more assistance to these fine folks; as well as addressing their voting requirements.

    Additionally, I entirely agree that these laws are being enacted by those who have absolutely no concern whatsoever as to why the people have no ID at all... and that they are being entirely disingenuous, regarding the 'proven to be fantasy' claims of even the remote possibility these laughable proclamations regarding any rampant 'multiple voter' fraud.

    Making it the REQUIREMENT is that sticking point - these laws are being enacted by those who don't care as to WHY the people have no ID at all; but only because those affected by the law do not vote for their party.

    Posted by compuable, 08/17/2012 7:01am (2 years ago)

  • This is Voter Suppression at its finest.

    Watch the video and sign the petition to end Voter Suppression.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TjVsQa57c

    Posted by electedface, 08/16/2012 4:13pm (2 years ago)

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