Closing arguments concluded this afternoon in the lawsuit seeking to halt the new voter ID requirement, setting the case up for a timeline the judge said should allow a final decision before the November elections. Much of the six days of testimony in the Commonwealth Court were occupied with questioning by the groups challenging the law, as they presented people who they said might be prevented from voting and experts who testified that many people lack acceptable identification and that voter fraud is extremely rare. In his closing argument, Witold Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the state has shown no interest justifying a law that he said could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people.
He argued the law puts an uneven burden on different groups of people, drawing upon testimony from individuals and data from a survey commissioned of Pennsylvania residents to conclude that people who are poor, uneducated, Hispanic, female, and elderly are less likely than others to have identification meeting the requirements of the law.
When faced with a witness who lacks the documents needed to obtain state identification, attorneys for the state have asked questions designed to show the person could still get a new form of identification, which is still under development. Mr. Walczak contended in his closing argument that the state cannot guarantee it will reach all voters with the new ID. “The Department of State ID is not a magic bullet,” he said. “The details are unclear, the release is uncertain, and it doesn’t mean anyone can automatically walk in and get it.”