On Monday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court began hearing arguments over the state law requiring a photo ID before voters may cast their ballots — a law that some claim is controversial, despite the seemingly common-sense approach to the voting process.
Pennsylvania is one of nine states to have passed a law requiring voters to show a state-issued ID before voting. Seventeen states require voters to show some kind of photo ID. Pennsylvania’s law was considered the strictest, as it permitted only certain types of IDs to be accepted.
Bloomberg News reports,
Pennsylvania’s law requires a driver’s license, state-issued ID or acceptable alternative such as a military ID to cast a ballot. The law requires that acceptable IDs must have an expiration date, which eliminates common forms of photo identification such as veterans’ IDs, commonwealth employee IDs and student IDs.
Temporary injunctions have prevented the law from being enforced, though it has been in place for the last three elections.
Prior to the 2012 election, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled against the measure, declaring that Pennsylvania officials did not provide ample time for voters to acquire their photo IDs.
“I expected more photo IDs to have been issued by this time,” Simpson said in the 16-page ruling. “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. Consequently, I am still not convinced in my predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement. Under these circumstances, I am obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.”
Following that ruling, the Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of State Shannon Royer said that state officials were “reviewing all legal options” but overall were “pleased” that the law was still upheld in the decision.
"Under today's ruling, voter ID will be implemented on a different timeframe. This November, all voters will be asked to show photo ID when they vote, though it will not be required," she said in a statement.
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Photo of sign in Pennsylvania notifying voters of ID requirements: AP Images