PA Voter ID Law Struck Down; Next Battle—Expanding the Gerrymander


By Kenneth R. Myers, Esquire
We in Pennsylvania are subject to more than one attack on the sanctity of the ballot box.


The detailed and careful opinion of Judge Herman McGinley enjoining the voter identification
law takes effect subject to the high likelihood of an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
That Court’s 2012 ruling withheld decision on the merits of the law, instead questioning the
practical impact on voters. So there is no foretelling the result in the coming appeal.

Meanwhile, the next battle to defeat the wishes of the voting public is the proposal to award
Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in presidential elections on the basis of the tally by Congressional
district. As a result of the very successful gerrymander of those districts, Republicans cast less
than half the votes statewide yet elected 13 out of 18 of our state Congressional delegation in
2012. According to analysts, despite the fact that President Obama won Pennsylvania by more
than 5 points in 2012, he probably would have won only 7 of the state’s 20 electoral votes if this
vote rigging plan had been in effect.i

Some background will help understand the situation today with the voter ID law. The very
detailed and careful opinion of Judge McGinley of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
permanently enjoined the voter identification law that has been challenged in court for almost
two years. The primary thrust of this law is to require picture identification, such as a driver’s
license, for any registered voter to be able to cast a ballot. This voter ID law is one of many
adopted across the country, primarily by state legislatures with Republican majorities.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court received the case on motion to enjoin operation of the law
temporarily, before any final trial on the merits. Acting just before the 2012 presidential
election, the Court enjoined the law and sent the case back to Commonwealth Court to determine
whether it places an illegal burden on the right to vote, particularly as regards people who cannot
readily visit a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID.

At trial the opponents of the law presented calculations that as many as 400,000 Pennsylvania
voters might find it difficult or practically impossible to qualify for the necessary photo ID. The

Administration argued, in support of the law, that it is justified to address potential voter fraud. But no significant evidence of voter fraud was presented.

Judge McGinley sifted through the many problems that would-be voters, particularly the elderly
and the poor, are likely to have in trying to secure the necessary photo ID. Various efforts at
curative patches put up by the Corbett Administration were rejected either as unsatisfactory to
solve the problem, or as unauthorized under the law. The court ruled that the difficulties
imposed on many citizens amounted to a deprivation of their right to vote.


Watch carefully for coming events in the battle to suppress voting in Pennsylvania!
1 See Think Progress, http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/16/1451351/pennsylvania-house

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