Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said in a Thursday statement that he will not appeal a state court's opinion against its restrictive voter ID law. However, the governor signaled that he hoped the state would adapt a constitutionally-sound version of the provision in the future.
"Based upon the court’s opinion," Corbett wrote, "it is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible. However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications." The state's strict voter ID law was never enforced. It would have required almost every voter to show particular photo forms of ID before being allowed to cast a ballot, as the AP explained. Corbett defended the idea of a photo ID requirement "sensible and reasonable." Just not, one assumes, the law he signed into law.
The 2012 Pennsylvania law was struck down in a January ruling by Bernard L. McGinley of the Commonwealth Court. His 103-page decision concluded that the state's law "does not further" the goal of producing a "free and fair" election. The decision also found that the law placed a disproportionate burden on elderly, low-income, and minority voters, and that it did not effectively address its stated intent of preventing voter fraud. Here's more on the decision, from the New York Times:
In addition, Judge McGinley ruled, the state’s $5 million campaign to explain the law had been full of misinformation that has never been corrected. He also said that the free IDs that were supposed to be made available to those without driver’s licenses or other approved photo identification were difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain.
These arguments should sound familiar to those following the court challenges to Voter ID laws across the country. Late last month, a federal judge struck down Wisconsin's voter ID law for similar reasons, as did a state court in Arkansas.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.