Officials from the state Departments of State and Aging recognized early on the problem that the voter ID legislation might pose to Pennsylvanians who are older, ill or disabled, according to attorneys challenging the state’s voter ID law. Those officials sent a memo to Gov. Tom Corbett’s office in November 2011, when the law was still being debated, about allowing voters in those circumstances who couldn’t get to a PennDOT center to get a photo ID to vote by absentee ballot. The governor’s office denied the request, said Michael Rubin, a Washington, D.C. attorney representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania-led coalition that is seeking to permanently overturn the law. In his opening arguments in the trial that began Monday in Commonwealth Court on the state’s voter ID law, Rubin noted that the memo would be introduced as new evidence to show that even members of Corbett’s administration recognized the potential it presented in disenfranchising voters.
Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause PA, who was on hand to hear the opening statements delivered in a crowded courtroom before Judge Bernard McGinley, said he found that new information to be troubling.
“That was a pretty compelling statement,” he said. “They had options. They could have made it easier for people to vote and still reach their goal and chose not to,” Kauffman said.
The challenge to the law is intended to prevent the controversial law enacted in 2012 from ever being enforced. Its implementation was delayed until after the May primary as a result of a court-approved agreement reached in February by Corbett’s attorneys and those representing the law’s opponents.
The court proceeding resumes at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in the Capitol Complex. It is scheduled to last two weeks.