Commonwealth Court Ruling on Voter ID Law

A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge has ruled that the state’s controversial new voter ID law will stand, but voters without a valid picture ID card will still be able to cast their vote and have it counted this November.

Judge Robert Simpson has effectively decided to postpone part of the law.   Following his ruling, voters will still be asked for a valid voter ID at the poll.  But if they don’t have it, they will still be able to cast their vote in the usual manner.

The judge suspended the portion of the law that would have required voters without valid ID to cast what is called a “provisional” ballot, which would not be counted unless the voter could produce a valid photo ID within six days after the election.

Judge Simpson says he viewed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent directive  as ordering that he sever the illegal portion of the law concerning the provisional ballots.

In his 16-page ruling, the judge also said that the Department of the Commonwealth can continue to educate voters on the ID requirement and encourage voters to obtain ID.  He says voters must be able to get the “Department of State” ID as an ID of first resort for voting — that is, they don’t have to first be rejected for a Penndot driver’s license or non-driver ID.

So, this November’s election will look very much like this past April’s primary, in which a “soft rollout” of the new law took place.  Voters were asked for ID by poll officials, but those without it could still vote.

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