Judge suspends state voter ID law until court makes decision

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HARRISBURG -- The judge hearing the legal challenge to the Pennsylvania voter ID law has ordered that a suspension of the requirement continue until he makes a final determination in the case.

Both sides in the case had already agreed that voters would not be required to show photo identification at the polls in the municipal and judicial elections this November.

The requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls became law in March 2012, but the courts stopped it from taking full effect on schedule at the elections that November.

After days of testimony this summer on the question of permanently stopping the law, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley on Friday ordered that the suspension continue until his court reaches an appealable decision.

He declined to grant a request by the team challenging the law that it be blocked through appeals to the Supreme Court.

Additionally, the judge ruled that while poll workers can still ask voters for a photo ID, the workers may no longer say -- as they were instructed to do in the November 2012 and May 2013 elections -- that such identification will be required at future elections.

"Regardless of whether a request for photo ID causes confusion, telling a qualified elector that he or she will not have the right to vote in future elections if he or she does not obtain compliant photo ID, when that information has been erroneous at best, deceptive at worst, will not be continued," the order states. "Not when this Court has witnessed two prior injunctions where the information, in effect, misled qualified electors."

Members of the legal team challenging the law said in a statement that they were pleased with the order.

Opposition to the voter ID law has been a rallying cry for Democrats, who were unified in the Pennsylvania House and Senate in voting against the bill. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, released a statement Friday calling the order "a victory for equal access to the ballot in Pennsylvania."

Both sides in the case expect the Commonwealth Court decision to be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

breaking - electionspa - state

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-2141. First Published August 16, 2013 4:15 PM


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