By Michael O Daly
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson has handed down a decision to block enforcement of the Pennsylvania Voter ID law. The law, which would require every person voting to show a photo ID that includes an expiration date, was seen by many as an attempt to disenfranchise voters in a presidential election year. His ruling does not strike the law from the books. Instead it delays its enforcement to allow more time for citizens to get appropriate ID, and for the state to properly implement procedures for obtaining a Voter ID card.
This ruling has been celebrated by those opposed to the law as a win for every voting citizen. Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, of Oakmont, said in a statement, “The court order ensures that no citizen will be deprived of the constitutional right to vote as a result of the voter suppression law pushed through by Governor Corbett and Republican legislators, at least not this year.”
A written statement from Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said, “The decision to delay Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law is a victory for democracy and fair elections, albeit a temporary one. It is clear that this law could not have been implemented in the few short weeks before a high-turnout election without chaos at the polls and qualified voters being turned away.”
Supporters of the law have also been outspoken in their response to the injunction. Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalf, of Cranberry, said in a written statement, “Rather than making a ruling based on the constitution and the law, this judicial activist decision is skewed in favor of the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic to meet the commonsense requirements to obtain an acceptable photo ID.”
This statement makes it clear that his intention in support of the law was not in preventing voter fraud, as he previously stated, but instead it was to keep a portion of eligible voters from exercising their rights.
As it stands, when you go to your polling place you will still be asked to present ID, but even those who were unable to obtain ID before election day will still be able to vote and have their vote counted, so it in no way effects your ability to vote. In future years, if the law remains, you will be required to have a photo ID to vote, so you should obtain adequate ID as soon as you can.
New students at Penn State, starting this semester, were given updated student ID cards that include an expiration date, making them acceptable for the purposes of voting in PA. In addition, students with older student ID cards that do not have appropriate ID for voting can be issued a sticker with an expiration date that will be affixed to their existing ID card, so that it can be used at the polling place. Having ID does not mean that you do not need to register to vote; it is in addition to standard voter registration procedures which must be completed 30 days prior to Election Day.
While your right to vote has been protected, it is your responsibility to exercise this right. On November 6 cast your vote and take part in the election process.