By: Lauren Saccone
A judge has ruled in favor of Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law, rejecting requests to block the law from being enforced. Civil rights groups, who claim that the move will put an unreasonable burden on minority voters, have fiercely opposed the law, which requires all registered voters to present a current government-issued photo identification in order to vote.
Judge Robert Simpson, in his 70-page opinion on the matter, ultimately decided that despite his empathy for the plaintiffs that the law had to remain standing.
“At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel,” wrote Simpson.
The plaintiffs already intend to appeal the decision in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.
“We are disappointed but will seek to appeal,” said David Gersch, a lawyer on the case, when speaking to reporters. “At trial, we demonstrated that there are about a million registered voters who lack the ID necessary to vote under Pennsylvania’s photo ID law.”
There have been intense arguments over the impact of the voter ID law. Republican officials claimed that approximately 1% of Pennsylvania voters did not have the necessary ID to vote. But a report in July by the state confirms that roughly 9% of registered voters did not have the required paperwork to vote. In Philadelphia, which has typically voted Democrat, the number of registered voters without a current state driver’s license reaches 18%.
Some Democrats claim that the law is a move to give Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney an advantage over Democratic president Barack Obama. The Obama administration has launched a program to raise awareness about the identification law.
“This [law] requires hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters who lack the specific government-issued photo ID to jump through burdensome hoops to exercise their most basic legal right,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project. “Many will not be able to vote at all.”
[Pic via Flickr - Ho John Lee]