In 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly introduced a discriminatory Voter ID law that went into effect in the spring of 2012. At the time of the introduction of this bill, I was President of Pennsylvania NOW and blogged about this law on the Pennsylvania NOW blog website.
In 2012, the new law was challenged in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. Plaintiffs in the voter ID case are represented by the Public Interest Center of Philadelphia, Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter.
The initial hearing held the week of July 31, focused on the lack of time available to implement the law. I one of the people who testified at this hearing of the problems obtaining a photo id that I observed at the local PennDOT driver’s license center.
Initially Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson upheld the law as timely. It was then appealed to the PA Supreme Court and the majority of this court remanded the case back to Judge Simpson telling him that unless he could affirm that no one would be adversely impacted by the new law, he would have to enjoin (delay) implementation.
Which is exactly what happened. So in the November 2012 election, people were asked, but not required to show a photo id. As a matter of protest, I was one of many who refused to present my id on November 6, 2012 because of the disparate effect that this law would have on low-income people, non-drivers, the elderly, people of color, students, and people with disabilities.
After Judge Simpson enjoined (stopped) the implementation of the law, the plaintiffs filed a second complaint alleging that the law is unconstitutional due to its disparate impact on women, people with disabilities, and people of color. The initial filing of these arguments occurred in December, 2012. This morning, Judge Simpson announced that a full hearing on the constitutionality of the law would commence on July 15, 2013; he expects the hearing to last about one week.
Meanwhile he also announced that by March 21, 2013 he will decide whether or not to modify the injunction he wrote last fall. If he does not modify it, the law will be in full effect for the Primary on May 21, long before the constitutionality of this law is determined.
For more information on this announcement, click here (Associated Press) and here (ACLU of PA).