Jan 23, 2014
A Pennsylvania judge last Friday struck down the state's controversial 2012 law mandating that voters show a photo ID at the polls. The ruling was a big win for voting rights advocates.
"We applaud the work of our Democracy Initiative partners, the NAACP and the Advancement Project, in defending voting rights," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "The Pennsylvania law was clearly intended to make voting harder – if not impossible – for many citizens. Sadly, Republican leaders in Pennsylvania have championed the law for holding down voting and improving the prospects in elections for their candidates. We will continue to support voting rights in all states, as critical to a functioning democracy."
The law passed just in time for the 2012 presidential election, but has been temporarily blocked since last October pending a full trial. Many voters had found it difficult to obtain a state-approved ID to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on poor, disabled and elderly Pennsylvanians.
Judge Bernard McGinley of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania wrote, "Hundreds of thousands of electors in Pennsylvania lack compliant ID. Enforcement of the voter ID Law as to these electors has the effect of disenfranchising them through no fault of their own. Inescapably, the Voter ID law infringes upon qualified electors' right to vote."
He added, "In contrast to the hundreds of thousands who lack compliant photo ID, only 17,000 photo IDs for voting purposes have been issued." In addition, the state "wholly failed to show any evidence of in-person voter fraud," McGinley wrote.
The plaintiffs in the case included disenfranchised voters, NAACP, the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters and Philadelphia's Homeless Advocacy Project.
"This decision helped end our three-year long fight to protect the rights of voters in Pennsylvania," said Jotaka Eaddy, the NAACP's voting rights director. "This court recognizes that unnecessary barriers to the ballot box are counter to the principle this nation holds most dear – that all citizens should have free and unfettered access to the ballot box."
The Democracy Initiative continues to fight the rise in voter suppression and disenfranchisement across the country. Learn more at http://www.democracyforus.org/.