Voter ID survives court challenge in Pennsylvania

Minnesota, of course, is not the only state debating Voter ID, which would require people to show a valid ID when they vote. But what’s happening in other states certainly frames the debate here, too, especially in states where the law has recently passed and is being tried for the first time.

In Pennsylvania, a state judge today has refused to toss the Voter ID law in a case that includes almost all of the reasons on both sides of the issue in Minnesota.

In a post on the blog, Above the Law, Elie Mystal points out why the rush is on to strike down the law before it is employed:


This was always the brilliance of the Republican push for these voter ID laws. They’ve been perfectly timed to get them through this election. By the time this issue is ripe for judicial review, the votes will already have been counted. If the GOP is right and this kind of suppression really does influence the outcome of the election, well, they’ll have their victory long before courts start unpacking which individuals were disenfranchised.

Pretty lucky that the threat of voter fraud only became a big GOP issue in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election, isn’t it?

Of course, the game isn’t over. Simpson says that the photo ID requirement has a “plainly legitimate sweep,” and I’d imagine that contention will be attacked on appeal, seeing as there is no evidence that voter fraud occurs at any significant level, or that a photo ID requirement would stop the de minimis fraud that allegedly takes place.

But Simpson’s ruling should be another good reminder to everybody who wants a second crack of political battles through the courts: it’s a lot easier to prevent a law from being passed than it is to get one overturned.

Some of the people who sued to overturn the law say they will not be able to get a state ID in Pennsylvania because they can’t obtain a birth certificate, according to the Associated Press.

Here’s a copy of the judge’s decision:

Opinion: Applewhite et al v. Commonwealth of PA

  • BJ

    Your wouldn’t know this to be true

    ” lot easier to prevent a law from being passed than it is to get one overturned.”

    All the BS about activist Judges gets my temp up.

  • David G

    They should still be able to take it to a full trial. The judge made no ruling on the merits of the case, only whether it would be enjoined.

    What’s stunning to me is the judge said ““does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors.” Even after the plaintiffs presented reams of evidence that upwards of 280,000 voters in Philadelphia alone will be affected by the law.

  • Bob Collins

    That was the point that ATL was making in explaining the decision. The judge basically said he wouldn’t rule on an injury until someone suffers it.

  • David G

    And if there’s a close election where even a quarter of those 280,000 voters are rejected because of the law, what does that do to the legitimacy of the results?

    It also seems there’s an irreparable harm that the judge is ignoring: if an eligible voter is prevented from voting, there’s no recourse that can restore their vote in that election.

    Unless that judge is going to promise to be available to rule on all rejected voters before the polls close on election day…

  • compuable

    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.