Reactions to PA Court’s Voter ID Decision

The Commonwealth Court has delayed implementation of the Voter ID law. Voters will be asked to show voter ID in November as they were in the primary, but they will be allowed to vote even if they do not have ID.

This decision will hopefully allow more Pennsylvanians to exercise their right to vote. In order to make sure this become a reality please remember to register to vote. Voter registration forms are due this weekend at the County Bureau of Elections.

Following the jump are some reactions to the Commonwealth Court’s decision.
Obama for America Pennsylvania Senior Advisor for Communications Desiree Peterkin-Bell

“Today’s decision means one thing for Pennsylvanians: eligible voters can vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections in the state.

“The right to vote and choose our leaders is at the heart of what it means to be an American. The President and his campaign are committed to making sure that every eligible voter, regardless of party, has the ability to make their voices heard and participate in the electoral process.

“We encourage voters who have questions about voting to call our toll free Voter Hotline at 855-834-VOTE (8683) and to register by next Tuesday’s deadline, October 9. Regardless of party affiliation, we support ensuring any voter eligible to cast a ballot has the right to do so.”

Will Crossley, DNC Counsel & Director of Voter Protection

Today, we achieved another significant victory in our historic efforts to protect the right to vote when a Pennsylvania judge blocked implementation of the state’s restrictive voter ID law for this year’s presidential election.

The Pennsylvania voter ID law was one of the most onerous in the nation. It imposed heavy burdens on tens of thousands of Pennsylvania voters who lacked the particular kind of photo ID specified in the legislation. The court concluded the state had failed to establish procedures to cure deficiencies in access to new photo IDs, and predicted that implementation of the law would result in the disenfranchisement of eligible Pennsylvania voters.

As a result of the judge’s ruling, all eligible voters of the commonwealth will be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections.

Democrats and voting rights advocates have now scored several major victories in voting rights cases-not only in Pennsylvania, but also in states like Florida,Iowa, and New Hampshire. We remain committed to making sure that every eligible voter has the ability to make their voice heard regardless of political party.

Though we celebrate these victories, there is still much work to do. In the weeks ahead, we must ensure that all voters know how to participate, and can access the ballot box on November 6. For more information on how to vote in your state, go to today.

State Rep. Babette Josephs

In the wake of Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s temporary injunction against requiring Pennsylvania voters to show a current, valid government-issued photo ID, state Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., is hopeful that a more permanent ruling is applied.

“With his first ruling, Judge Simpson abdicated his judicial responsibility in the hope that someone else would make the decision for him on this controversial law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court then did the same by sending the case back to the lower court. It took a second try, but Judge Simpson finally acted, and I’m glad of the result,” Josephs said.

Under the ruling, the same rules that were in effect for the primary election will be in effect for the Nov. 6 election, meaning that election workers will ask to see valid photo ID, but if voters do not have it, they still will be allowed to vote – and not by a provisional ballot as required by the law: they can vote in the booth.

“There are international implications to today’s decision, as well as domestic ones,” Josephs said. “America is the world’s most powerful democracy, and the hallmark of democracy is voting. We’re known for our universal suffrage and other countries look up to us. Today’s ruling reaffirms that government will stand up for its voters, despite those who intended the law to suppress the vote.”

As an example, Josephs pointed to the law’s sponsor, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who said last month that anyone who fails to obtain a photo ID for voting was lazy.

“It is bad enough that countless news stories have documented people’s difficulties, frustrations and inability to obtain photo identification for voting, but then to have the prime sponsor of the law call those hardworking, responsible Pennsylvania citizens ‘lazy,’ shows nothing except how much disdain Mr. Metcalfe has for ordinary, hardworking people. Citizens have documented hours, even days devoted to obtaining necessary paperwork, and not all of them have been successful in spite of their strenuous efforts,” Josephs said.

Josephs also is optimistic that the Supreme Court will uphold the injunction on the expected appeal.

“Judge Simpson was acting on the court’s instructions, so it would seem that the Supreme Court will not find fault with that.”

Additionally, Josephs said she believes it is well past time for the Department of State to pull its voter ID commercial from the airwaves.

“This commercial has offended people from the moment it was put on air,” she said. “It calls into question people’s patriotism and their constitutional right to vote, instead of clearly explaining the new voter ID law. Now the law has been stopped for November, but the advertisements might give some voters the impression that they still must have photo ID in order to cast their ballots. Unless this is the first time you have voted in this particular polling place, you need only sign the poll book, and go into the voting booth. I want the State Department to stop confusing the Pennsylvania citizens immediately.”



  1. DocJess says

    It’s a good first step, but all of us involved with GOTV must remember to let our voters know that they can still be asked for ID, and that they have the right to say “NO” – unless this is their first time voting at that particular polling place. If they are new, the old forms of ID (student IDs without expiration dates, utility bills, library cards, etc.) are still legally acceptable.

    Voters also need to be informed that if they are asked for ID and don’t have one, they do NOT have to vote provisionally — they need to find someone outside their polling place with the local Democratic party or the Obama campaign, and tell them the problem. Lawyers will be available.  

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