Millions of Pennsylvanians will cast ballots in the November election, but six votes could carry the most weight. Six justices on the state’s Supreme Court stand to play a bigger role in determining the outcome of this year’s elections in Pennsylvania than any other voter. The fate of the state’s voter ID law now rests in their hands. The justices are being asked to decide if voters must show a valid photo identification to cast a ballot. Critics say it could deprive people of the right to vote, particularly members of minority groups, seniors and the poor. Supporters say the law is a common-sense measure to ensure the integrity of elections. It’s one of the more prominent cases ever to reach the state’s highest court. Regardless of how the justices rule, their decision will be seen as affecting more than the vote in Pennsylvania.
Given Pennsylvania’s swing state status in the race for the White House, some see the decision as critical in deciding if President Barack Obama wins re-election, or Republican candidate Mitt Romney takes the Oval Office. For all these reasons, the state’s voter ID law has gained national attention. Only six of the high court’s seven justices will hear the case, since Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been suspended as she battles criminal charges. Groups suing to block the law must convince four of the justices that its unconstitutional.