The fate of Pennsylvania’s 16-month-old voter identification law is in the hands of a Commonwealth Court judge after closing arguments in the landmark voting-rights case Thursday. The state argued that it had done its part to ensure that all registered voters had access to mandatory ID, while petitioners countered that those efforts were not enough. Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, said the law placed a “fundamental burden” on a right “enshrined in the Constitution.” “It is time to put an end to this and enjoin this law,” Clarke told Judge Bernard McGinley. Attorneys for the state offered no evidence of voter fraud in the commonwealth but defended the law as needed to protect the integrity of the vote. Alicia Hickok, an attorney with Drinker Biddle representing the state, said officials had done “whatever is possible, whatever is necessary, and whatever is legal” to ensure that voters know about the new law and how to go about applying for a free, voting-only card if they lack any other acceptable forms of ID.
The 12-day trial featured testimony from state officials, statistics experts, and petitioners. Most of the petitioners were elderly and disabled. Several said they were unable to vote last November because they could not obtain proper ID.
Several state officials testified about numerous efforts that were made to improve access to IDs and inform the public about the new law through a $5 million federally funded media and direct-mail campaign.
Still, by multiple different estimates, Clarke said, there are likely hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who lack ID to vote.
“There is no safety net that allows those who go to polls without IDs to cast a regular ballot,” she said.
Full Article: Voter ID’s fate now in judge’s hands.