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August 1, 2014, 3:52 am

Pa. judge sides with state on ID law

Despite detailed evidence to the contrary, including evidence from the Pennsylvania Department of State that voter fraud in the Commonwealth is virtually non-existent, a Republican judge has refused to grant an injunction against implanting the state’s voter identification law.

The decision by Judge Robert Simpson, which was announced early Wednesday, ignited a storm of furious comments from opponents of the law, which they say could prevent hundreds of thousands of registered voters from participating in the November presidential elections. The controversial law, which was rushed through the state Senate and the House of Representatives, has also drawn the attention of the United States Department of Justice.

“We are outraged and extremely disappointed over Judge Simpson’s decision,” said Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire. “His decision is nothing more than a reflection of the partisan nature of the political system in Pennsylvania. Judge Simpson basically just denied the entire complaint.”

In Judge Simpson’s decision he wrote that he was not convinced that the petitioners, which included the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Pennsylvania State Conference and others, did not offer proof that voter disenfranchisement would be immediate and that other forms of redress, such as absentee ballots would be sufficient.

“On the contrary, the more credible evidence on this issue was that offered through the Commonwealth witnesses,” Simpson wrote. “I was convinced that efforts by the Department of State, the Department of Health, PennDot and other Commonwealth agencies and interested groups will fully educate the public. Moreover, considering the believable testimony about the pending Department of State photo IDs for voting and the enhanced availability of birth confirmation through the Department of Health for those born in Pennsylvania, I am not convinced any qualified elector need be disenfranchised by Act 18.”

Simpson added that the availability of absentee and provisional ballots and judicial relief for those with special hardships would be sufficient. Mondesire said the voter identification law was implemented to serve only one purpose.

“Regardless of today’s decision, we remain committed to working with supporters and volunteers across the state to register and educate Pennsylvanians about the Voter ID law,” said Jennifer Austin, Pennsylvania Press Secretary for Obama for America. “We want to ensure all eligible voters have the information they need to get to the polls in November and exercise their right to vote. Since the passage of the law our campaign has included information on the new provisions in volunteer trainings, information resources, online, and in voter registration and education activities and we will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is important that the Commonwealth follow through on its plan to make available free IDs to any voter who may need them. Regardless of party affiliation, we support ensuring any voter eligible to cast a ballot has the right to do so.”