Both sides ask judge to postpone Pa. voter ID law until after primary

Posted: February 16, 2013

Lawyers on all sides of Pennsylvania's voter ID controversy want to postpone strict enforcement of the law until after the May 21 primary election, allowing time for the proposed photo-ID requirements to be considered again by the state's appellate courts.

The attorneys, representing both the Corbett administration and various civil-rights groups opposed to the law, filed a stipulation Thursday asking Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. to extend a preliminary injunction he first issued in October.

If the judge agrees, that would limit enforcement of the voter ID requirement to the same rules that prevailed in the November election: Voters will be asked to show a qualified photo ID when they show up at the polls, but will be allowed to use voting machines whether they have photo ID or not.

"It's great news - good for the voters and good for election administrators," said Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, one of the three officials responsible for the city's elections. "It makes a ton of sense and takes away the uncertainty for the primary election."

Republican majorities in the state House and Senate pushed the law through the legislature last March and it was signed by Gov. Corbett. It would require registered voters to show a specified form of government-issued photo ID to vote on machines.

Those without valid photo ID would be allowed to vote on provisional paper ballots and get six days to convince county election officials that their votes should be counted.

Opponents contend the law could disenfranchise thousands of voters, mostly elderly or poor, who do not drive and had no prior need for a photo ID card.

Simpson has scheduled hearings to begin July 15 on opponents' request for a permanent injunction against the law. That would allow time for him to issue a decision that could be reviewed by the state Supreme Court before the general election in November.

The agreement announced Thursday would obviate the need for separate hearings on a preliminary injunction - and allow election officials throughout the state to immediately tell poll workers what rules will apply in the May primary.

"The judge asked the parties to try to work something out, and we were able to work something out," said Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, one of the entities fighting the law.


Contact Bob Warner

at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|