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Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial Starts Under Federal Scrutiny

Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial Starts Under Federal Scrutiny


Pennsylvania’s restrictive Voter ID law gets its first legal test this week as the trial challenging the constitutionality of the law starts today.

Filed by a coalition of civil rights groups, the plaintiffs allege the bill violates the state constitution. The trial starts just as the Justice Department starts its own investigation into the law on the federal level.

In court filings in the state challenge, Pennsylvania officials formally acknowledged there have been no reported in-person voter fraud cases in Pennsylvania and there are not likely to be any in November. The admission was part of a signed stipulation agreement with the plaintiffs. The agreement also states that Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”

Pennsylvania estimates that over 750,000 registered voters do not have an ID that would satisfy the photo ID bill. Those voters are predominately concentrated in urban areas like Philadelphia which also happen to be heavily democratic-leaning. One of the top state Republican leaders has admitted the voter ID law was passed to help Mitt Romney win the swing state.

The trial is expected to last five to seven days. Given the initial admissions by the Republican that there is no evidence of fraud to support the bill, the Department of Justice will be watching the trial very closely.


Related Stories:

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

The Catís Out Of The Bag: One Republican Admits Voter ID Laws Are Meant to Suppress Democrats

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Photo from John Morton via flickr.

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5:58PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Steve R...another example of an uninformed bigot?

11:03PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

I live in PA, and this Governor and Republican legislature is appalling!

4:31AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

@Steve R: "Why does ANYONE not have photo ID in this day and age???? Because they're not LEGAL residents or citizens - that's why!"

No, a scientific study of eligible voters -- i.e., legal residents and citizens -- shows that more than 1 million in PA lack an ID that will qualify under PA's law. That's not to say they lack every kind of photo ID -- in fact, many have a form of photo ID that is not acceptable under the law. See the first study here:

"If photo ID at the polls was a problem, if it would stop some Republicans from voting, the Republicans would be bleating about it right along with the Democrats."

If the law is not stricken, some Republicans will be prohibited from voting ( When those voters finally learn, through personal experience, that the Republican talking points are not true and that their own representatives sold them down the river, we will start to hear some "bleating."

4:27AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

@Steve R: "I don't care whether there has been voter fraud or not - if we have to produce photo ID for just about everything else.... what's the problem with photo ID when we vote?"

You may not care, but hundreds of years of legal precedent does. Voting is a fundamental constitutional right (see, Article VII, Section 1 of the PA Constitution). The legislature only many pass laws that impact a fundamental constitutional right if it can show that the law serves a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. If there is no evidence of in person voter impersonation fraud -- the only kind of fraud a photo ID requirement can prevent -- the government cannot establish a compelling interest and the law fails constitutional challenge. Since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had admitted in writing that there is no evidence of in person voter impersonation fraud and that it will present no such evidence at trial (, it cannot possibly satisfy the legal test.

Driving, cashing a check, etc. are not constitutional rights, so laws requiring people to show photo ID in those circumstances would not have to pass this compelling interest analysis.

8:04PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Voting these days are for "people" like Steve R, they all ready stuffed the ballot box. Steve, knows: Vote often and vote twice is a Repugant story..

The theme that ought to be on the lips of each American: the four boxes of liberty is a meme that proposes: "There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo box.

People, today, voting is for suckers, for people willing to give a vote to Bush and now to Obummer or that fool, Romney. How soon we forget, do you remember that frigging Bush, that Shrub, they took all that you have to give, and in return they gave the 1% a tax break, worth Billions.

What more can they take...your life, your liberty, your country, the very essence of what formerly comprised the former Republic...Once Known as America, now known as Americorp.

The time draws near for each and everyone of us to press our bodies onto the barracks.

Who knows...we could possibly turn back the hands of time and bring America to some sense of normalcy to this land, but we must make choice.

We must ask, no demand, that we all are willing to press our bodies against the barracks, to ignore the many threats and challenges, after all, we all owe a debt to our neighbor's, our friends, our relatives, our off-spring, all those of different lands and to our children. To which we have caused much harm.

Voter reform, bring on or you shall see..."let their heads roll."

11:43AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

"Under Federal Scrutiny"...

Gosh - I wonder why? Oh - that's right - because there's a Democrat in the White House until November and he's panicking about his "undocumented Democrat" votes!

I don't care whether there has been voter fraud or not - if we have to produce photo ID for just about everything else.... what's the problem with photo ID when we vote?

Why does ANYONE not have photo ID in this day and age???? Because they're not LEGAL residents or citizens - that's why!

Why are the so-called "civil rights groups" not challenging the requirement to have a driver's license with your PHOTO on it if you wish to drive?

And surely it violates their "civil rights" to have to produce photo ID to open a bank account, cash your welfare check, apply for food stamps.....

It's bullshit! There is nothing "unconstitutional" about having to produce photo ID when you vote, just the same as there is nothing "unconstitutional in any other cases where photo ID is required!

If photo ID at the polls was a problem, if it would stop some Republicans from voting, the Republicans would be bleating about it right along with the Democrats.

They're not - because there are no "undocumented Republicans"!!!

9:14PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

If there is no valid need for these laws, and since the law would deny so many US citizens the right to vote, this law is completely unconstitutional. I, too, am shocked it has even gotten as far as trial considering PA has openly admitted voter fraud isn't an issue and at least one Republican member of the PA legislature has acknowledged the purpose of the law is to make sure Romney wins. The only way you can ensure that is to remove eligible voters who you believe will vote for Obama - the poor and minorities. It's just another attempt at stealing the election.

6:44PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

The Republicans are adamant about stealing the election for their candidate Willard Romney who as I draft this is in England trying to excavate his feet from his mouth. Unsuccessfully. If a candidate of his quality or lack of said is to be elected President the victory will probably have to be stolen.

5:13PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

@ wendy c: "the practice of loading groups onto buses bringing unregistered voters into districts to sway the vote they want in exchange for a free lunch"

I am a poll worker in PA. This cannot happen. Only registered voters who are in the poll books may vote. You cannot just bring in a busload of unregistered voters and have them vote.

"It would make sure only US citizens vote."

With the exception of a passport, non-citizens can obtain every other form of photo ID that is acceptable for voting under the PA photo ID law. So how will requiring people to show an ID that non-citizens have prevent non-citizens from voting?

That's a rhetorical question -- no need to answer.

4:22PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

As a Pennsylvanian, are you people aware this was a GOP effort, to fight off Obama voters?

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