(HARRISBURG, Pa.) — It’s less than two months before the election and Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is still under challenge in the courts.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a lower court to determine whether voters in Pennsylvania will be able to get IDs — under the Commonwealth’s controversial voter ID law — in time for the next election.
The Supreme Court order vacates a lower court decision that upheld the voter ID law, and asks the lower court to “consider whether the procedures being used for deployment of the [identification] cards comport with the requirement of liberal access.”
The lower court is directed to provide a supplemental opinion on the issue by Oct. 2.
It was a 4-2 decision.
Justices Seamus P. McCaffery and Debra Todd dissented from the opinion, saying the court was wrong to remand the case Tuesday for further hearings on whether the Commonwealth can implement the new law without disenfranchising voters. Todd wrote, “Forty-nine days before a Presidential election, the question no longer is whether the Commonwealth can constitutionally implement this law, but whether it has constitutionally implemented it.”
Matthew Keeler, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said Tuesday, “The law is still in effect. The Department of State is going to continue to reach out to all registered voters and continue to educate them about what IDs are valid and how to go about getting a valid ID if they require one.”
Critics of the law were cautiously optimistic about Tuesday’s decision.
“We’re glad to see that [the] Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking the actual impact on voters seriously,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “Requiring the state to prove the law will not disenfranchise voters is the right step to take. The reports from Pennsylvania already include long lines at the PennDOT offices, confusion and untrained workers giving out misinformation. The law places an insurmountable burden on hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters and we are confident that the evidence will demonstrate widespread disenfranchisement. Elections in America should be free, fair and accessible and this law must be stopped in time for the fall elections so that every voter who wants to cast a ballot can do so.”
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