Pennsylvania’s voter identification law, one of the strictest in the nation, was back before a court on Monday in a case that opponents hope will end once and for all requirements that were suspended by a judge a few weeks before last year’s presidential election. Lawyers representing a group of voters without proper ID made the case in opening arguments that by requiring people to present photo identification to obtain a ballot, Pennsylvania was taking away the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of registered voters who could not obtain the right document. In rebuttal, lawyers for the state said the United States Supreme Court had ruled that laws requiring voters to present identification were not inherently a burden. Pennsylvania’s voting procedures have drawn intense national scrutiny because Pennsylvania is a swing state whose 20 electoral votes are sharply contested in national elections.
As in other states that have passed strict voter ID requirements, Republicans, who controlled the legislature and governor’s office in Harrisburg, last year argued that the law was needed to prevent voter fraud. Photo IDs, already a part of modern life, could be easily obtained, they said.
Opponents said the law’s intent was to simply to limit participation by students and minority poor and elderly voters, who disproportionately lack the required IDs and tend to vote Democratic.
Michael Rubin, a Washington lawyer working with the American Civil Liberties Union to oppose the law, said the state had no evidence of fraud and no plan to present any at the trial, which is taking place in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg and is expected to last two weeks.
A spokesman for the state, Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, countered outside the courthouse after opening arguments on Monday, “There is no doubt some form of voter fraud does occur.”
The plaintiffs, a group of Pennsylvania voters who say that for various reasons they cannot obtain the necessary ID, ultimately want the State Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional.
Full Article: Pennsylvania Defends Law on ID for Voters – NYTimes.com.