Pennsylvania Supreme Court to try voter ID law

On September 13, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments challenging a recent state law which requires voters to display a photo identification on Election Day. In August, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled that the law would be implemented for Pennsylvanians entering the ballot box this November.

The issue of voter ID requirements has proven to be extremely controversial this election year. While the decision to require voters to show photo ID is under state jurisdiction, it is an issue which falls mostly along partisan lines. Proponent of such laws, mostly Republicans, argue that requiring a photo ID is critical to validating identity when registration lists may not be up to date. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argue that voter fraud is rare and that requiring photo ID will disenfranchise various at-risk voting blocs including the urban poor and the elderly. So far, only nine states require a photo ID to vote.

The case has been brought to suit by the America Civil Liberties Union and 10 citizens who argue that Simpson’s decision does not respect voting as a fundamental right. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele has estimated that, at the time of the election, the number of voters without ID will be 100,000 or less, although opponents are skeptical that the number is much higher.

Legal and political precedents in Pennsylvania seem to indicate that the law will be upheld. “It's part of the job of the Legislature to oversee the franchise, and so the general idea that there should be some system to identify voters is obviously and clearly within the legislative power,” said Bruce Ledewitz, professor at Duquesne University School of Law, to the Post-Gazette. 

“The Pennsylvania courts have historically treated the rights provided by the federal Constitution as a floor and not a ceiling," said Seth Kreimer, ACLU Philadelphia chairman and professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Despite the likelihood of the state law being upheld this month, it is clear that the decision in Pennsylvania will not end the debate on voter identification. President Barack Obama encouraged voters to fight for unobstructed access to the ballot in his speech at the Democratic National Convention. “If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void," he said. "The people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are trying to make it harder for you to vote.”

The Pennsylvania decision will be the last word on the issue until Election Day on November 6. Although the election is unlikely to be decided by the estimated 100,000 votes that may be discounted, the decision may be used as a last minute rally by the candidates to fire up their bases heading into November.

 

School, major and year: A&S ‘14, Political Science
HometownWestfield, NJ
What makes the Gavel so BANGin’? Awesome people, great content.
You have 24 hours to give prospective students a tour of BC and convince them to enroll. How do you spend the day? Hockey game, tour of campus, meal at Hillside, read The Gavel
If you could go back in time and give yourself a pep talk the night before you moved into BC as a freshman, what is the most important piece of advice that you would give to your former self?No worries, it all works out.
What is your favorite study spot on campus? Out of sheer laziness, my room.
What is your go-to meal at Late Night? Haven’t had a meal plan in a tragically long time.
What is the #1 most played song on your iTunes? "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys
What is the best Halloween costume that you have ever worn? Sarah Palin, Halloween 2008
If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Chili’s, although I’d probably die of high blood pressure within a matter of days.
If you could befriend the main characters from any TV show or movie, who would you choose and why? Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy from "30 Rock," because, duh.

Comments