PA Voter ID Law Delayed—All Votes Will Count on Nov. 6
A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge today issued a partial injunction against the state’s restrictive Voter ID law, which according to one study threatened up to 700,000 registered voters who lack state-approved ID from being able to vote on Election Day.
This decision means that every registered voter in Pennsylvania will now have the right to vote in the 2012 General Election—although ID will still be required for elections in 2013 and beyond. And the fact that it comes just five weeks before Election Day means that we need the Pennsylvania Department of State, which has spent much of this year warning people not to try to vote without ID, to be just as vigilant about letting people know that voters without ID will not be turned away.
Educating the public about the new rules for Nov. 6 is just one of the challenges now facing us. In 2008, Common Cause Pennsylvania deployed a team of 150 poll monitors throughout the state and found numerous polling places where judges were asking all registered voters to show identification—despite that fact that state law only required first-time voters, or people voting at a new polling place for the first time, to show identification. At one polling place at State College, Common Cause’s poll monitors found that this misinterpretation of the law resulted in a three-hour wait to vote and hundreds of students being forced to vote by provisional ballot, and dozens being forced to write their votes on scraps of paper after the supply of provisional ballots was exhausted.
So while today’s decision is a short-term victory for the voters of Pennsylvania, the Department of State must do more to educate its elections judges, and provide enough provisional ballots, to make sure that people are not disenfranchised.