A Pennsylvania judge is putting a halt to the state's new voter
identification law, ordering today that it not be enforced for the
presidential election just five weeks away.
The ruling by
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson could be appealed to the state's
Supreme Court. Simpson's ruling says the law -- requiring each voter to
show a valid state-issued photo ID at the polls -- would be fully
implemented next year.
Simpson's ruling means Pennsylvania voters
will be asked to show photo ID, but can still vote if they don't do so.
The same policy was in effect during the state's primary earlier this
The judge said during hearings last week that he was
considering invalidating a part of the six-month-old law -- considered
one of the toughest in the nation -- for the Nov. 6 election.
and their allies, such as the NAACP, have been opposed to the voter ID
law, saying it would harm minorities and low-income voters. Republicans
have praised the law as a way to reduce election fraud.
a swing state, has 20 electoral votes up for grabs. President Obama is
leading statewide opinion polls by an average of 8 points, according to
six recent surveys compiled by RealClearPolitics. Mitt Romney said
during a recent campaign stop in Pennsylvania that he believes he can
carry the state.
Simpson said today that he "expected more photo
IDs to have been issued by this time. For this reason, I accept
petitioners' argument that in the remaining five weeks before the
general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated
need will not be closed."
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of
the Advancement Project, which challenged the law in court, hailed
Simpson's ruling. "The evidence made it clear to the judge that this law
would indeed disenfranchise voters and that the Commonwealth was not
equipped to implement it fairly right now," she said in a statement.
Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, said in a
statement that he was "disappointed" by the ruling. "We shouldn't have
to wait for this commonsense reform to be enacted," Gleason said. "With
that being said, voter ID is still Pennsylvania law, was found to be
constitutional and we will work to encourage voters to bring their photo
identification with them to the polls."