A Commonwealth Court judge today blocked a controversial law that would have required voters to show photo identification at the polls on Election Day.
Judge Robert Simpson heeded warnings from the state Supreme Court that mandated voters should have so-called liberal access to obtain voter ID cards. That means, any voter who wanted to vote would be able to free and easily obtain such ID.
In an eleventh-hour scramble last week, Gov. Tom Corbett scrambled to ensure voters would be given photo IDs at any of the state's driver license centers. However, reports of long lines and residents being turned away prompted attention as to whether liberal access was a reality.
The ruling was claimed as a victory for Democrats, who argue a portion of their voting base would be more affected if the law was applied. The Democrats maintained that elderly and minority voters would be prevented from casting their ballots if such a hindrance was implemented. However, Simpson's ruling only applied to this year's election, Nov. 6, and opened the door to voters needing proper photo ID next year.
While this news didn't assuage Republicans, who had pushed the voter ID law, they also looked at it positively.
Here's what state legislators and organization leaders are saying:
"I’m glad Judge Simpson agreed that the administration moved too quickly toward implementing this requirement without protecting the voting rights of every citizen," said state Sen. John N. Wozniak, D-Centre County. "Unfortunately, the mad rush to get this done in time to change the outcome of the presidential election means the waste of millions of tax dollars. Haste makes waste. That’s the lesson the administration should take from this."
"Voter Identification is about ensuring the integrity of our elections and preserving the principle of the 'One person, One vote' doctrine," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai. "When votes are diluted through fraud, the system starts to break down. Voter identification has always been about creating a level playing field where every Pennsylvanian's voter represents an equal opportunity to have a voice in government."
"The ruling today is encouraging for all Pennsylvanians. Unfortunately, it is a decision that should have been made a long time ago," said Jerome Mondesire, president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference. "With 35 days left until Election Day, the state must work with the NAACP and other leading organizations to limit voter confusion. We will work to ensure that poll workers do not wrongly enforce the law, and that all counties are monitored on Election Day."