After voter-ID ruling, Pa. conservatives target Corbett, judges

Philadelphia officials and activists who oppose the voter-ID law hold a celebratory news conference after Tuesday's decision. From left: Councilwoman Marian Tasco, City Comissioner Stephanie Singer, the NAACP's Jerry Mondesire, city Managing Director Rich Negrin and Rahim Islam, CEO of Universal Companies.
Philadelphia officials and activists who oppose the voter-ID law hold a celebratory news conference after Tuesday's decision. From left: Councilwoman Marian Tasco, City Comissioner Stephanie Singer, the NAACP's Jerry Mondesire, city Managing Director Rich Negrin and Rahim Islam, CEO of Universal Companies.
Posted: October 04, 2012

THERE WERE three types of reaction Tuesday to a judge's ruling that voters in Pennsylvania can cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election without having to show state-approved identification.

* Democrats, who considered the new voter-ID law an attempt to disenfranchise their political base, rejoiced about state Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's ruling.

* Some Republicans, like Gov. Corbett, Secretary of State Carol Aichele and state GOP chairman Rob Gleason, wanted the law implemented this year but said they are glad that Simpson will allow it to be used in future elections.

* And the party's right wing, including state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, of Butler County, who sponsored the law, and the Independence Hall Tea Party Political Action Committee quickly turned their vitriol on Simpson and Corbett.

Simpson's ruling means that the state will have a "soft run" on the voter-ID law on Nov. 6, with election officials asking for identification at polling places but allowing people to vote without them.

Metcalfe denounced Simpson, a Republican, as a "judicial activist" who overstepped his authority in a ruling "skewed in favor of the lazy" without identification.

Metcalfe also said that Corbett should not have allowed Aichele to develop a new type of voter identification for people who were having trouble getting other state IDs.

Metcalfe also accused Simpson and Corbett of supporting "the ever-increasing entitlement mentality of those individuals who have no problem living off the fruits of their neighbors' labor."

The tea-party group promised to hold accountable Corbett in the 2014 primary election if he doesn't appeal the ruling.

They also vowed to politically target state Supreme Court members who on Sept. 18 ordered Simpson to reconsider his Aug. 15 ruling that upheld the law.

Vic Walczak, legal director for the ACLU in Pennsylvania and one of the attorneys who challenged the law, called Simpson's preliminary injunction a victory because it means that voters without identification on Nov. 6 will not be forced to use provisional ballots.

Without Simpson's intervention, anyone using a provisional ballot would have had to produce a valid state ID within six days.

"Provisional ballots are not certain," he said. "Frankly, most of them end up not counting."

The concern now is potential confusion if the Department of State continues an education campaign telling voters they need identification on Nov. 6.

Ron Ruman, a Department of State spokesman, said that changes are "likely" in that campaign but that they're still being discussed.

President Obama's campaign in Pennsylvania cheered Tuesday's ruling with this statement: "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."

Philadelphia City Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer said that the ruling was a victory for Pennsylvania's government.

"There's one thing we can't disagree on," she said, "[and] that is that no one can be disenfranchised."

Simpson, in Tuesday's ruling, said that he found three problems in allowing the law to apply in the Nov. 6 election.

First, the Supreme Court was unsatisfied with his Aug. 15 "predictive judgment" that the state would not disenfranchise voters.

Second, with the general election five weeks away, he was unsure if there was enough time for the state to produce identification for every voter who needs it.

And third, "candid admissions" from state officials in court showed that new procedures to equip voters with identification produce unforeseen problems.

- Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at phillyclout.com.

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