PA judge strikes down voter ID law… for now

posted at 4:01 pm on January 18, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

I suppose it’s somehow appropriate that the film Groundhog Day was set in Pennsylvania, because it’s certainly starting to feel that way when it comes to new voter ID laws. After being passed and then set aside and then brought back, a (Democrat) judge from the Commonwealth Court has struck down the law once again with less than two months until the 2014 primary.

In a strongly worded decision, a state judge on Friday struck down Pennsylvania’s 2012 law requiring voters to produce a state-approved photo ID at the polls, setting up a potential Supreme Court confrontation that could have implications for other such laws across the country.

The judge, Bernard L. McGinley of Commonwealth Court, ruled that the law hampered the ability of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and that the state’s reason for the law — that it was needed to combat voter fraud — was not supported by the facts.

Here’s the entire 103 page decision if you care to plow through the whole thing. I’m not investing that kind of time at the moment, but some other people have already done it. There’s a fairly good analysis by Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog which explains that the people celebrating this decision might be a bit premature.

Despite the victory, there are some things in here that will be troubling for voter id opponents (and heartening for their supporters). The judge said that Pa’s equal protection clause is read as equivalent to the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, and the Court found there was no equal protection violation by the law. The judge specifically found, in footnote 33 (p. 48), that the law was NOT motivated by an attempt to disenfranchise minorities or Democratic voters—the judge said he found this notwithstanding the comments of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai. From my quick look at the statement of facts, I did not see more of the basis for the judge’s opinion on this point, but it undercuts one of the main motivation arguments of opponents.

Hasen goes on to point out that the next stop for this case is the PA Supreme Court which may not uphold Judge McGinley’s decision. Their original finding in setting aside the law was more a question of timing and fine tuning the legislation (which couldn’t be done in time for the 2012 election) while not declaring the basic premise of the law to be unconstitutional. By contrast, the judge seemed to continue to focus a major part of his objections on the red herring of we don’t have records of much voter fraud, so you can’t pass a law to prevent it. I wrote about this subject in excruciatingly long detail back in 2012, and I’ve yet to year any argument which invalidates my misgivings about this theory. The short version of it goes something like this:

The fact that you have no examples of a thing nobody is looking for does not constitute proof that said thing does not exist.

If the ruling held up in the state supreme court I’m sure a lot of folks would like to see it go to the SCOTUS, but I’m not sure how that story ends either. The court still seems to have a track record of trying to duck out of the really tough, controversial issues, and this one might prove no exception. It’s entirely possible that they could conclude that the individual states have the right to set their own election laws, providing they meet a few minimum standards, and take a pass on issuing any sort of sweeping ruling for the entire nation. But even if that’s the case – as we’ve already seen in Pennsylvania – most courts will probably be willing to entertain the concept as not being flatly unconstitutional.


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Need to start strikin’ down summa them ID requirements to buy a gun or booze.

Lanceman on January 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM

It would seem like if a democrat is going to vote 5 times he should have to show an ID once anyway.

VorDaj on January 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM

These two-bit judges are doing everything in their power to help build the liberal voting base . . . law and Constitution be damned.

rplat on January 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM

C I V I LW A R !

listens2glenn on January 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Red herrings abound.

Anyone without ID, even in an ID required district, can still cast a provisional ballot. They are never disenfranchised.

At least in my state this is true. And we require ID to vote.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 18, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Change requirement to vote:proof of 1040–Earned Income and/or Investment Income must be above 0 and Earned Income Credit must be 0.

hillsoftx on January 18, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Red herrings abound.

Anyone without ID, even in an ID required district, can still cast a provisional ballot. They are never disenfranchised.

At least in my state this is true. And we require ID to vote.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 18, 2014 at 4:06 PM

.
“No ID required” allows same person to vote multiple times, with fake aliases.

Absentee and provisional ballots should not be allowed, without some means of verification

listens2glenn on January 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

“No ID required” allows same person to vote multiple times, with fake aliases.

Absentee and provisional ballots should not be allowed, without some means of verification

listens2glenn on January 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

But that is my point, the judge says they is no problem, when there is.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 18, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Motor Voter was brilliant.

Murphy9 on January 18, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Where is the RNC money to pay people to vote multiple times for Republicans?If the dems do it why sit back and let it happen without playing the game?These judges are saying it’s OK so why not out vote the dems in their own game?The Republicans need to get some activist to round up the same dregs and pay them a lot more than the dems do.Apparently there is no shame in doing it.Elections are not fair and everyone knows it.

docflash on January 18, 2014 at 4:31 PM

My 89-1/2 year-old mother-in-law has a photo ID, and has had one since they became available in the early 80s. It hasn’t been easy to transport her around at times, either, but somehow she managed to get one.

Oh, and yeah, of course there’s no voter fraud in Pa. Those 99.1% votes for Obama in certain precincts in Philadelphia were entirely accurate and above-board, just like the Dem poll watchers, who kicked out their Republican counterparts, said they were.

Disenfranchised, my a$$.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

listens2glenn on January 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

.
But that is my point, the judge says they is no problem, when there is.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 18, 2014 at 4:23 PM

.
My apologies … I misunderstood.

I do that, occasionally ( b l u s h ).

listens2glenn on January 18, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Time to post this again.

This article needs to be posted far and wide within the conservative blogosphere and action is long overdue to find a way to reverse or nullify it. This $h!t has been going on since 1981.

Little wonder why the Dems always seem to shrug their shoulders and don’t get all that upset when they “lose” an election. Anything for public consumption, obviously, is an over-the-top act.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

This Activist Judge is from (where else?) Allegheny County. High school dropout rate there is something like 33%.

Del Dolemonte on January 18, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Am I being discriminated against when asked for ID to cash a check or make a buy a hunting/fishing license..get a library card ..but need none to vote for the ones making and enforcing laws???
Who are these judges??

Mimzey on January 18, 2014 at 5:03 PM

…how else are they going to cheat?

KOOLAID2 on January 18, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Time to post this again.

This article needs to be posted far and wide within the conservative blogosphere and action is long overdue to find a way to reverse or nullify it. This $h!t has been going on since 1981.

Little wonder why the Dems always seem to shrug their shoulders and don’t get all that upset when they “lose” an election. Anything for public consumption, obviously, is an over-the-top act.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

…I saw that last year on a thread here at HA last year or before…and haven’t answered a plea from the RNC since!

KOOLAID2 on January 18, 2014 at 5:07 PM

You know, here in Oklahoma we present a birth certificate and proof of residency to get a Drivers License. When we vote we have to present a Drivers License and a voter registration card. We have no problem with either of these requirements, and our elections are clean.

thatsafactjack on January 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM

We have no evidence of law abiding citizens using firearms to commit crimes but we need tougher gun control laws anyway just to make sure it doesn’t happen.

bgibbs1000 on January 18, 2014 at 5:24 PM

KOOLAID2 on January 18, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Probably I was the one who posted it back then, too. I haven’t answered a plea from the RNC since, either, although I haven’t changed my registration yet.

That whole article makes me livid. The fact that the GOP tiptoes around it causes me to conclude that they don’t really want to do anything about it. If they were intent on vacating that decision, they’d be trying every which way, every month of the year, elections or not. And that makes me even more livid.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Oh, and this might be a little OT, but there’s an interesting voter fraud component to this that deserves to be known a bit better also.

RIGGING THE FUTURE: Obamacare Creates 50 New State Databases With No Function Beyond Gathering Potential Voter Information, Real or Fraudulent

Presumably, there is a Part 2, but I haven’t been able to find it, either on PJ Media’s site or in a general search.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

The Democrats can not have voter i.d. laws in place, they have to fight them, because they need to be able to rig close elections. I’m reasonably sure the Democrats stole the last election and they did it in states where the DOJ fought voter I.D. laws. I believe they were successful in Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio and when you look at the margins in those states they were really close.

What I find ironic about these decisions is all of the things you can’t do without an i.d. which no one believes is discriminatory. Yet to vote, you just can’t ask for i.d. In Florida, we have voter i.d., but if you don’t have one you can file a provisional ballot. The way I believe they stole FLorida was a majority of the elections supervisors are Democrats and, as such, I believe they will do what it takes to win, when they can. It’s really hard to steal an election that’s not close, but if you have the desire to steal a close one, a few votes here or there and you’ve got it.

Without closely scrutinizing the millions of votes, in each state, proving voter fraud is difficult. Just the incidents they have caught make you wonder how much does go on. I remember when ACORN was registering voters and the officials were so proud that they caught Porky Pig and Donald Duck. Well, while they were going after that one, how many John Smith’s got through. No one, in their right mind, would believe Porky Pig would get through, but if you’re trying to hide a John Smith, what better way to do it, distract the inspector.

bflat879 on January 18, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Man we conservatives just keep getting beat down. We just can’t win. I can’t wait until I can finally afford my 65′ catamaran and just park it 11 miles offshore and watch this whole rotten country just burn itself up.

Its not really worth saving anymore.

Defenestratus on January 18, 2014 at 5:30 PM

The fact that the GOP tiptoes around it causes me to conclude that they don’t really want to do anything about it. If they were intent on vacating that decision, they’d be trying every which way, every month of the year, elections or not. And that makes me even more livid.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Why is the gop silent on this?
If more people knew of this, there would be a groundswell of anger demanding to have the issue addressed and the injustice corrected.
That tactic works for bogus issues bellyached by minorities, gays, women etc., and guess what?..things change.

Mimzey on January 18, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Yet it is O.K. to require id at the pot dispensary in Colorado.

trs on January 18, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Mimzey on January 18, 2014 at 5:34 PM

That’s a great question. There’s this quote from the article:

PolitiJim writes for Gulag Bound, November 13, 2012, that during the weekly True the Vote webcast, Catherine Engelbrecht (see her photo below) related a meeting she had with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), asking what the GOP would do about voter integrity. The answer?

Nothing. They aren’t legally able to.

You have the chairman of the GOP, Reince Priebus, saying there’s nothing he or the GOP can do legally because of this 1981 decision. There’s no plan in place (that anyone knows of) to counter it or try to vacate it, so that says to me that they are unwilling to even try. My best guesses as to why they won’t boils down to the usual things: a.) they are too scared, b.) they are somehow beholden to someone higher-up holding the money bag, c.) they are too complacent, and especially d.) they do not have the killer instinct like so many Dems do.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:49 PM

James O’Keeffe obtained Eric Holder’s ballot.

Dead people and Alana Biden voted in New Hampshire.

Don’t all those elderly peeps have to sign up for SSI? Can they do that without ID?

dogsoldier on January 18, 2014 at 5:53 PM

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:49 PM

This is why we need a new party. The GOP is led by RINOs and idiots who lack what it takes to win now.

dogsoldier on January 18, 2014 at 5:56 PM

dogsoldier on January 18, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Yep. Exactly.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

I suggested to our PA state representative Chris Sainato that if a precinct counts more votes than registered voters (like many dozens of precincts in the Philly area did) the votes of the entire precinct be thrown out. Needless to say my suggestion was dismissed out of hand.

Zorro on January 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Here in WA a few years ago, we had a full-blown lawsuit and trial over a governor’s race that had ended only after previously “misplaced” ballots were “discovered” in King County (where Seattle is located). The winner in the third or so count was of course the Dem. The aggrieved R who’d been ahead by a handful in the first two counts litigated (in a neutral county in Eastern WA). As I recall, he was able to show multiple cases of improperly counted votes, multiply counted votes, disqualified votes that should have counted and the reverse . . . but he lost when he ultimately could not establish a clear connection between any specific bogus or imaginary voter to any specific, improperly treated ballot, and therefore, the judge could not establish the exact number of ballots to toss. So, after all the remedy that state election law allowed, the fishy election results still stood.

Had there been the same minimal requirements of ID to vote as are routinely required to rent a car or a DVD, check into a motel, or a myriad of other mundane activities, the fraud would have been detectable and curable.

Gee, I wonder what ID opponents are afraid of…/

ugottabekiddingme on January 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM

MeanWhile, ……..

Feds deny state bids to tighten voter registration
By ROXANA HEGEMAN
— Jan. 18, 2014 1:38 PM EST
***************************

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found Friday that heightened proof-of-citizenship requirements likely would hinder eligible citizens from voting in federal elections,

handing down a ruling that denied requests from

Kansas,

Arizona

and Georgia

to modify the registration form for their residents.

The decision came just hours before a court-imposed deadline in a lawsuit filed in federal court by Kansas and Arizona that seeks to force the commission to modify state-specific requirements for registering to vote in those states. Georgia, which has a similar voter registration law, is not part of the litigation but was included in the commission’s decision.(More…)
========================

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/feds-deny-state-bids-tighten-voter-registration

canopfor on January 18, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Zorro on January 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

But of course! He’s got a big, fat “D” after his name. He couldn’t do so publicly, maybe, but I’m sure he was cheering them on behind closed doors.

PatriotGal2257 on January 18, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Managed to totally silence a FB libbie, over this subject, once.

Simply thanked her for her willingness to locate and transport all of those ‘disenfranchised’ voters in her county to where they could obtain their FREE IDs, prior to voting day.
She’s the big-mouthed type that likely WOULD do such a thing, and brag about it profusely.

Not one more post on that subject, since, however.

;-)

pambi on January 18, 2014 at 6:08 PM

Need to start strikin’ down summa them ID requirements to buy a gun or booze.

Lanceman on January 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM

you know it.

the law hampered the ability of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on elderly, disabled and low-income residents

His same concerns are there….but we know he would NEVER be consistent.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 18, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Voter ID laws seem all fine in Kenya and South Africa. I suspect more there populations are worse off than ours.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 18, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Same rules for firearms purchases then, right?

rogerb on January 18, 2014 at 6:28 PM

ugottabekiddingme – I remember that Washington election. Until the 2012 election, there were 2 races I was reasonably sure the Democrats stole, the Washington Governorship and Al Franken’s election in Minnesota. Now, after 2012, I believe I can point to 3. You’ll notice that all 3 of these elections came after George W. Bush won the 2000 election. I’m sure the Democrats vowed that would never happen again and they’ve taken steps. The most infamous step was the George Soros Secretary of States project, which made it a point to elect Democrats as Secretary of States in as many states as they could.

The true irony of this is they stole the last election to save Obamacare, IMHO, and the law just may end up being their undoing. If the Republicans had retaken the Senate and/or won the Presidency, they could have gotten rid of Obamacare and the Democrats knew this. Would they actually steal an election to do this? After watching the Democrats work their magic in 2009 and 2010, there’s no doubt in my mind they’re capable of it and also willing to do it.

The 2010 mid-term is actually what forced their hand for 2012 and, once again, I believe it was a concerted effort. Between the IRS, DOJ, FEC, and Local Democrat organizations, the effort was put forth to get votes where they NEEDED them.

bflat879 on January 18, 2014 at 6:36 PM

Cool; I love a voter fraud thread, so I can tell my voter fraud stories, so that those who say it’s not there can think twice.

1. Each time I vote, in MA, I’m asked to self-identify. I give my street name, number. I’m then asked my last name. After this step, each time I’ve voted, for more than 10 years, I’m asked “are you [massrighty's son's name]?”

So, for more than 10 years, I could have voted twice: first as my son, then as me.

2. Once, to prove a point to a doubting friend, I showed up at his polling place at 7:00 AM. I self identified as him, and was nearly handed his ballot. I excused myself, and removed myself, just as he showed up.

A system that relies on self-identification is inherently porous, and frauds, large and small, are very possible.

massrighty on January 18, 2014 at 6:46 PM

So if we don’t have many murders the judge would use that to rule laws against murder are not justified? No.

devan95 on January 18, 2014 at 7:03 PM

103 pages of make it up as we go.

Mini-14 on January 18, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

While the police state control grid tightens all around us, tracking every email, phone call, retail purchase, and our day-to-day movements, the one thing no one in government wants to track is who is actually casting the votes for elected representatives.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on January 18, 2014 at 7:12 PM

and that the state’s reason for the law — that it was needed to combat voter fraud — was not supported by the facts.

This is what infuriates me the most. It’s not in the Judges power to arbitrarily decide the reason for the law is invalid. There needn’t be a reason for any law. He is there to rule on Constitutionality only.

BierManVA on January 18, 2014 at 7:20 PM

I’m done…..punch my ticket.

dmann on January 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM

If you’re too feckless to register and get a photo ID, you’re too dumb to be allowed to vote. It’s not like requiring a literacy test in Chinese. What Democrats want is a lot of humanoids who will vote as instructed. In a coal-mining county near here, they used to tell the Italians, Greeks and Slavs to “put a mark under the chicken” because at the top of the Democrat slate the ballots used a picture of a rooster. If that’s all they know, I’d rather they stayed home.

flataffect on January 19, 2014 at 1:18 AM

Besides the concept that Jazz mentions (no evidence doesn’t equal evidence of none), there’s the simple fact that you don’t have to have a recognized problem to write a law outlawing that problem. The issue here is that if there is no fraud, then they argue the burden on the voting right is too great. That’s where we should focus our argument (as PatriotGal2257 mentions her grandmother) – on the fact that it isn’t a burden at all.

GWB on January 19, 2014 at 7:33 AM

Gee, I wonder what ID opponents are afraid of…/

ugottabekiddingme on January 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM

.
In a word, ‘reality.’

In more detail, the politicians who oppose it, are afraid of losing their POWER.
Most of the voters who oppose it, are afraid of having to do REAL WORK for a living.
The rest of the voters who oppose it, aren’t afraid of anything … they’re just STUPID.

listens2glenn on January 19, 2014 at 8:50 AM