A ruling on a challenge to Pennsylvania’s new voter photo identification law is expected by Aug. 13, a judge said Thursday after hearing closing arguments in a case being watched across the country.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said no matter what his decision he expects it to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Opponents of the new law offered their final arguments on Thursday, insisting that requiring registered voters to present a state-accepted photo ID at polling stations could disenfranchise a large number of residents, especially the poor, elderly, minorities, and younger voters.
But state officials countered that the law applies equally to every voter and that any inconveniences that might arise from having to obtain a photo ID do not make it unconstitutional.
“To be sure, voters do share some responsibility to obtain an ID and to get themselves to the polls,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Cawley told the court. “The law does not require the commonwealth to eliminate all inconveniences.”
The case in Pennsylvania is being monitored closely in other states where Republican-controlled legislatures have either passed or attempted to pass tougher voter ID restrictions as a way they say to discourage fraudulent voting.
Democrats have objected strenuously to many of the changes, charging that the efforts are designed to keep Democratic-leaning voters away from the polls. Citing national studies, they also say there have been too few instances of fraud to warrant what they see as an attack by the GOP on basic voting rights.
In the Pennsylvania case, state officials admitted that there have not been many instances of in-person voter fraud, according to the Tribune Review. But they said the law was needed to head off the possibility of fraud because an estimated 1 million voters do not have an acceptable form of identification to prove state residency, such as a valid driver’s license, passport, or some other documentation.
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