By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters unable to secure identification since the state’s voter ID law took effect will be able to have their votes counted on Nov. 6, according to a court order released today.
An order released Tuesday morning from Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson determines the state is providing enough access to IDs, but places a partial injunction on language that applies to those without ID who would’ve cast a provisional ballot.
The injunction means voters who do not obtain ID can still have their vote count in this election. Previously, voters without ID could cast a provisional ballot and show state-issued ID within six days of the election to have their vote count, but Simpson’s order enjoins that part of the law.
The order is still subject to appeal by either party – the state or opponents of the law including the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union.
Simpson said his injunction is tailored to address “the offending activity,” which is voter disenfranchisement, not a request to show a photo ID. He also said he was “not convinced” that there will be no voter disenfranchisement under the state’s implementation of the law in the next election.
The ruling comes in response to testimony last week, after the state Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to review whether or not the state was providing enough access to identification.
Simpson made his decision after requesting post-trial briefs from both parties on the possibility of a preliminary injunction. Petitioners in the case agreed that most parts of the law do not cause disenfranchisement, while the state conceded that it did not provide liberal access to IDs as defined by the state Supreme Court.
“I will enjoin enforcement of those provisions of Act 18 which amend the provisional ballot procedures of the Election Code and cause disenfranchisement based on failure to present photo ID for in-person voting,” wrote the judge. “The injunction will have the effect of extending the express transition provisions of Act 18 through the general election.”
The state argued based on new procedures put in place by the state to help voters obtain IDs.
Simpson said those changes do not allow enough time to decide whether or not they provide enough “liberal access” to getting IDs, as the Supreme Court requested.
Those changes including fewer requirements for obtaining a Department of State photo ID, and efforts to mail IDs to applicants whose names are not yet registered in the voter database to save them a second trip to a Pennsylvania Department Of Transportation Driver’s Licensing Center.
Though he questioned the efficiency, Simpson acknowledged the improvements. But for the purposes of this election, the preliminary injunction stands to protect those who are unable to secure the right identification.
“These existing structural improvements, together with the proposed enhanced access to the DOS ID and additional time, will place the Commonwealth in a better position going forward,” Simpson wrote.
Contact Melissa Daniels at [email protected]