Good news on the voter suppression front. Today a Pennsylvania judge has postponed enforcement of the state’s strict voter ID law until after the November presidential election. The law could have disenfranchised tens of thousands of citizens, mostly the poor, students, and elderly, from voting this year.
The decision comes a week after the Republican Governor Tom Corbett overhauled the process for citizens of the state to obtain the proper ID cards which signaled to the the judge that his previous ruling, which upheld the law on the condition that getting a state issued ID card was not too much of a burden on eligible voters.
The process was a burden and witnesses testified before the judge explaining just how difficult the process was, compelling the judge to change his ruling and determining that his previous ruling had not been followed by the state government. Thus, today’s ruling is a win for voting rights’ advocates.
In a much-anticipated ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. ordered that voters without government-issued photo ID should be allowed to cast regular ballots.
“That’s a huge win,” said Witold J. Walczak, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, “because last week the judge was suggesting that he was going to have every [voter without ID] vote provisionally.”
At the same time, the judge specifically ruled to allow the state to continue its education and advertising campaign, which currently tells voters that IDs are required.
Walczak said that if the state doesn’t change that message, “we may be back in court.”
There is still confusion over whether or not the state will stop running ads telling people they need an ID to vote but hopefully Pennsylvania will do the right thing and take those ads down so that people are not confused on election day.