Court inaction on voter ID wrong

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The state’s Supreme Court on Sept. 18 told a lower court that it should stop a new voter photo identification law from taking effect in this year’s presidential election if the judge concludes voters cannot easily get ID cards or thinks they will be disenfranchised.

The 4-2 decision by the state’s highest court sends the case back to the lower Commonwealth Court, where a judge initially ruled in August to uphold the law. The state Supreme Court asked for an opinion by Oct. 2.

While the state Supreme Court’s directions to the lower court set a much tougher standard than the one Judge Robert Simpson used when he rejected the plaintiff’s request to halt the law, it is still a disappointment.

Enough evidence of voter disenfranchisement already exists to stop the law now.

The state’s high court should have granted an injunction that would have halted the law. The new law will make it harder for the elderly, young adults and the poor to vote because they are most likely not to have the government approved identification.

The court should have overturned this unnecessary law which could suppress votes in the Nov. 6 election.

Republicans argued that the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud. However government lawyers acknowledged that they are “not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud.”

Yet plaintiffs’ lawyers presented testimony on how the law could suppress votes. Some voters said they will be unable to vote because they lack the necessary documents, including a birth certificate to get a state photo ID, the most widely available of the IDs that are valid under the new law.

How the high court will ultimately decide remains unknown. Both sides see the court’s ruling this week as being in their favor.

Meanwhile efforts to increase awareness of the new voter photo identification law must continue so that voters can cast their ballot in November.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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