Pennsylvania Supreme Court Throws Voters a Bone

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has vacated a lower court ruling that had effectively upheld in its entirety the state’s new, restrictive Voter ID law. The state Supreme Court returned the case back to the lower court and ordered it to review its decision.

The court, on review of the record, took issue with the lower court’s belief that Pennsylvania officials would be able to implement enough procedures to assure both compliance with the new restrictions and make sure as many citizens remained eligible to vote as possible. However, the court refused to strike the law, in part because those challenging it conceded that in some instances voter ID could be considered constitutional. From the opinion:

As a final element of the background, at oral argument before this Court, counsel for Appellants acknowledged that there is no constitutional impediment to the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement, at least in the abstract. Given reasonable voter education efforts, reasonably available means for procuring identification, and reasonable time allowed for implementation, the Appellants apparently would accept that the State may require the presentation of an identification card as a precondition to casting a ballot. The gravamen of their challenge at this juncture lies solely in the implementation.

That means that the lower court must give another look as to whether or not it is possible for Pennsylvania officials to have the law up and running in a constitutional fashion before November. If state officials cannot, then, according to the lower court, the law is to be enjoined until they can.

It’s a win, of sorts, for voting rights advocates. The law gets another look before a critical election and after Republicans have gone on the record saying their motivation in passing it was to disenfranchise Democratic voters. But, in order to get that small win those advocates conceded a lot of ground by conceding that the law could in some fashion square with basic constitutional principles. That’s a concession that all but guarantees this law will be in effect at some point.


Related Stories:

Judge Won’t Block PA Voter ID Bill, Appeal Imminent

Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial Starts Under Federal Scrutiny

Over 750,000 Pennsylvanians Could Be Disenfranchised By Voter ID Law


Photo from David Jackmanson via flickr.


Geri Kerwin

Lawrence T, your comments only prove my case, white males in the US are idiots. You can't stand the UN because nations other than the US are members, even including, yes, Iranians! What horror! And many of these nations are Muslims! Enough to make a white American man wet his jeans. The UN is setting foot on holy US ground! Rush is having a stroke! Why don't you grow up--you are the problem, not any foreigners. You don't know how to vote--you vote against your own interests like complete fools. You drag these bastards into office with your votes--knock it off!

Geri Kerwin

Republicans are trying to end the voting franchise for most of us, but the courts never seem to see this. Apparently the courts of law think it is okay for republicans to demand an ID card in order to vote. I have never heard democrats make such a demand, which would arouse my suspicions if I were a jurist. You don't have to be really bright to see what's up. The problem is the Constitution itself. It doesn't guarantee the right of all citizens of eligible age to vote. The framers thought the franchise should go only to white males with property--we have been trying to democratize the process ever since. The nineteenth Amendment gave women the franchise after they fought for it for 72 years! In Britain, the franchise was extended to women after only 10 years. British men are less sexist than Americans.

Joan S.
Joan S.4 years ago

I just am aghast at this nasty blatant what seems like cheating that's going on with voter suppression. Feels like our country is just going down the tubes and I for one hate it.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

Further, here in Colorado our State Atty. Gen. set out to 'purge the voter rolls" of illegal aliens who were voting in elections illegally. He used as his criteria anyone who had used non-American issued documents to obtain a driver's license in the last 8 years.Based on this he projected that there could be as many as 20+ THOUSAND voters on the voter roles in Colo. (pop 3.5 million). They used Homeland Security data bases and sent out letters on the AG's letterhead telling these people to prove they were citizens or remove themselves from the voter roles.83% of the letters went to registered dems and independents. Most of the letters came back as undeliverable, these people did not live in the state anymore. Nearly all the rest ( a couple of hundred) were in fact naturalized citizens. at the end of this taxpayer funded exercise (it took a court case to access the Homeland Security data base) 36 questionable voters were turned up, 6 proved citizenship, 20 some odd of them did not even know they were registered and had never voted , 3, count 'em 3 turned out to have actually voted in an election. Even in the suits that have been filed challenging these voter i.d. laws, the lawyers defending the laws are stipulating that they have no evidence of voter fraud of this nature.They are taking the tack of "prove that it's unconstitutional" without regard for the question of weather it is necessary to have these laws to protect the integrity of the elections.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

The move back to Colorado only required that I present a valid current D>L to get a Colo. license.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

I recently moved from Colorado to NY ( and thankfully, back to Co. again). To get a
NY drivers license I had to jump through all sorts of hoops, none of which, mind you included a driving test. Bear in mind also that this was a rural area with no form of public transportation and it was 18 country miles to the DMV.
1) go to DMV and find out that the list of documentation they told me I'd need on the phone was incomplete, i need " a current birth cirtificate".
2) go back with hospital issued brth cirt. that I have used all my life only to find that they want a state issued cert.
3) contact the state of Michigan to receive state issued cert. This is only done through an on-line service and costs $65
4) the on line service needs a fax of my current Colorado drivers license blown up to a certain size and at a certain clarity, the local bank is the only place in town (next nearest town is 10 mi. away) with a fax machine. Two tries do not reach the standard for the site. after two tries they charge an additional fee.
5) attempt to get size and clarity with dig photo of license and pay additional $10
6) wait for b.c., takes 3 weeks
7) finally get d.l.
I had the good fortune to have a vehicle available to me, a credit card, access to a digital camera and computer program that would enlarge and could squeeze out the $ 75 out of necessity.
Someone who did not have all those factors in line and needed to show a license to vote would be shit out.
The move back to C

Ajla C.
Past Member 4 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago


Terry V.
Terry V.4 years ago


Lawrence Travers
Lawrence Travers4 years ago

I guess the United States will have to invite the Iranians to observe our election to assure a fair election in face of the voter suppression laws.