A judge who will decide whether Pennsylvania’s new voter-identification law should be blocked heard testimony on Tuesday from one witness who said fears that the measure placed an unfair burden on residents were overblown. The witness, Kurt Myers, a deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said about 11,000 voters have gotten the mandated ID cards at the center of the controversial law and thousands more were set to get theirs before the November 6 election. “We’re in the business of issuing IDs, not denying IDs,” Myers told Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson.
Simpson, who upheld the law in August, called the hearing on orders by the state’s highest court to reconsider his ruling. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week told him to decide by October 2 whether voters have “liberal access” to the mandated IDs, and if they don’t, to block the law before the November election.
National attention is focused on the court battle over the law passed in March by the Republican-led Legislature without a single Democratic vote, as similar fights over potential voter disenfranchisement by ID laws are waged in Texas and South Carolina. A flashpoint is the law’s effect on voter turnout in Pennsylvania, a key swing state in the tight presidential race just six weeks away.