Pennsylvania’s decision to continue to keep the press from entering polling stations draws an arbitrary line and leaves room for foul play by ensuring that the voting process is not as transparent as possible. The 2012 election marked the first time that the Commonwealth would attempt to enforce its voter identification law. The law required all eligible voters to present an authorized government ID at the polls. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters’ wanted to gain access to the polling stations to observe the ID law, but were prevented from doing so due to a section of the Pennsylvania Election Code. The code stated that:
“[a]ll persons, except election officers, clerks, machine inspectors, overseers, watchers, persons in the course of voting, persons lawfully giving assistance to voters, and peace and police officers, when permitted by the provisions of this act, must remain at least ten (10) feet distant from the polling place during the progress of the voting.”
The Allegheny County Election Division read section 3060(d) to include members of the press and thus the reporters could not enter the polling stations. In PG Publishing Co. v. Aichele, the Post-Gazette then initiated an action against the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the County Board of Elections by challenging the constitutionality of section 3060(d) on First Amendment and Equal Protection grounds. On January 15, 2013, the Third Circuit upheld the dismissal of the Post-Gazette’s lawsuit and refused to follow the neighboring Sixth Circuit decision that permits press inside of polling stations. Less than a year later, the voter ID law that served as the catalyst of the Post-Gazette’s action would be struck down, however the press is still prohibited from coming within ten-feet of the polls.