Judge halts Pennsylvania's voter ID law until after election day

Last March, Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a bill, passed along party lines by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, that will require voters to show an ID issued by either the federal government, Pennsylvania, a higher-education institution, a municipal employer, or a care facility. Somehow, the common-sense ‘simply demonstrate that you’re a legal state resident’ law was branded as one of the more “controversial” and “restrictive” voter ID laws that various states are coming up with in an attempt to combat voter fraud (and which the DOJ has been steadily and dutifully suing, of course), and Democrats have been fighting it in court tooth-and-nail as a dastardly, partisan method of “disenfranchising” low-income, minority, and rural voters.

Although a judge upheld the law in August as “reasonable, non-discriminatory, non-severe burden when viewed in the broader context of the widespread use of photo ID in daily life,” the same court today deemed that implementing the law right now would be too soon to allow enough time for people to obtain IDs before the November election. Via Roll Call:

[The lower-court judge] was given until Oct. 2 to determine whether state officials were making an adequate effort to help voters without identification obtain necessary documentation before Election Day.

Though at the time of hearings last week there had been a “slight increase” in the issuance of drivers’ licenses during the last six months, almost 10,000 identification cards issued by the Department of Transportation and between 1,300 and 1,500 “safety net” cards issued by the Department of State, Simpson said the numbers weren’t high enough.

“I expected more photo IDs to have been issued by this time. For this reason, I accept petitioners’ argument that in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed,” Simpson wrote.

The polls are already calling Pennsylvania’s purple 20 electoral votes for Obama this time around, and the Democrats are hailing the court’s decision as a victory that will keep Democratic turnout high:

Here’s the Obama campaign’s statement, attributed to 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. …

Nothing yet from the Mitt Romney campaign, but Pennsyvlania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason was none to pleased about the decision:

“I am disappointed by today’s ruling to postpone the full implementation of a commonsense reform that helps protect the sanctity of our electoral process. …Voter ID is still Pennsylvania law, was found to be constitutional and we will work to encourage voters to bring their photo identification with them to the polls. Poll after poll has shown that Pennsylvanians from both political parties overwhelmingly support Voter ID legislation because, despite the empty rhetoric to the contrary, this legislation is still about ensuring one person, one vote. …”

Why Democrats insist upon making voter ID laws into such a divisive partisan issue still defies all logic to me, since voter fraud can and does impact both parties in a negative way, the majority of Americans think voter fraud is a real problem, and any legitimate citizen needs an ID to do countless things in everyday life — but, yet again, “logic” doesn’t really seem to be the issue here.

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