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August 31, 2014, 2:22 am

Court should rule against voter ID law

The more we learn about Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law the more it becomes clear that the law is an unnecessary partisan effort to suppress votes.

A hearing on the state’s photo ID law is now being heard in state Commonwealth Court.

At issue is a requirement that all Pennsylvania voters show a valid photo ID at the polls. The law goes into effect on Election Day, Nov. 6.

The Philadelphia Tribune, the local and state NAACP and other groups are leading efforts to inform voters about the requirement of the new law so voters can cast their ballots on Nov. 6.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the law in March after it passed the Republican-controlled Legislature without any Democratic votes.

Republicans contend they properly exercised their power in creating the law.

It is important to note that they are not arguing the original rationale for the law — to prevent election fraud. That’s because that’s an argument state lawmakers can’t make.

State officials acknowledge that they are “not aware of any incidents of in person voter fraud.” There have been no investigations or prosecutions or in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

Plaintiffs challenging the law have presented evidence showing that the law is likely to prevent many voters from casting ballots.

Plaintiffs estimate at least 1 million voters — 12 percent of the nearly 8.3 million who are registered — lack valid photo ID under the law.

Testimony last week revealed that complications with getting the proper ID including the fact that some registered voters do not have the required documents.

In addition, plans to start issuing the new Department of State photo ID this week for people in such a situation fell through. The state originally intended to begin issuing the ID cards on Tuesday, but was forced to move that date to late August.

A top PennDot official testified that the vendor tasked with making the new Department of State photo ID cards is on track to have them ready to be issued beginning Aug. 26.

But David Gersch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, pointed to a copy of the contact and noted that it does not require the vendor to produce the photo ID cars by Aug. 26 and does not penalize the vendor if that date is not met.

Testimony is expected to continue much of this week.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson will soon decide whether to block the law from taking in the Nov. 6 presidential election as part of wider challenge to its constitutionality.

Simpson, a Republican, said he hoped to rule during the week of Aug 13. His decision is likely to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The court should make the right decision and rule against Pennsylvania’s new voter photo ID law.