Judge Ignores Key Provisions of New PA Voter Integrity Law
by Judy Kent
Washington, DC - According to legal experts with the National Center for Public Policy Research's Voter Identification Task Force, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision to not affirm Pennsylvania's new voter ID law in full is an affront to reason and an example of liberal judicial activism at its worst.
"Today's ruling is a temporary setback for Voter ID. Notably the Court's ruling accepts the principle that the voter ID rules are legal. Unfortunately the timing of the change meant that Pennsylvanians will have to wait one more election cycle before they can be sure their elections are fraud-free," said National Center adjunct fellow Horace Cooper, director of the task force.
Pennsylvania's law, passed earlier this year by state legislators and signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett, would have required in-person voters to present one of eight different acceptable forms of identification to vote in all upcoming elections. The law contained religious and indigent exceptions and allowed for provisional ballots. Pennsylvania also instituted the ability for the poor to obtain free voter-only IDs.
In August, Judge Simpson upheld the law against the American Civil Liberties Union's call for an injunction. On appeal, and with a national election just a few months away, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asked Simpson to reconsider the injunction. According to Simpson, the provisional ballot provision of the Pennsylvania law is unworkable with a national election little more than a month away. "Judge Simpson should have held strong to his prior convictions and the rule of law, rather than bending to the race baiters and fraud enablers," said National Center general counsel Justin Danhof. "The ACLU's case relied on flawed data, racial rhetoric and plaintiffs who should have been excused since they can all obtain photo IDs."
Conspicuously absent from this most recent decision was a discussion of the circumstances of Viviette Applewhite - the lead plaintiff in the ACLU's original case against Pennsylvania's voter ID law. At the first trial, ACLU attorneys wheeled her before the court and claimed that Applewhite, a poor, elderly woman who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and voted in nearly every election since 1960 was "unable to obtain photo identification required by Pennsylvania's Photo ID Law... she will no longer be able to vote beginning in November." However, the day after Judge Simpson initially upheld Pennsylvania's voter ID law, the wheelchair-bound Applewhite made her way to the local PennDot office via public transportation and got her ID - just by asking. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there was no indication that the clerk recognized Applewhite as the key player in the voter ID lawsuit. "Applewhite is 93 years old, does not drive, is confined to a wheelchair, lacks many personal identification documents, and yet she managed to get herself - with no assistant from the ACLU - to her local PennDot office where she was issued an ID. If she can obtain an ID, everyone in Pennsylvania can and should," said Danhof. "And the ACLU should be ashamed that it dragged Applewhite into court rather than just offering her a ride to get an ID."
"Let this case serve as a clear lesson to state legislators across the country. Write clear constitutional laws and be prepared to defend them," said Danhof. "Pennsylvania officials caved to race-baiters and allowed for vote-only IDs after they had passed their voter ID bill. If the bill was valid and constitutional, Pennsylvania should have ardently defended it. Kowtowing to liberal race baiting by changing their law after the fact sunk this case. Pennsylvania polling places are once again open for fraud."
The National Center previously issued a press release lambasting the ACLU's case against Pennsylvania; available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/PR-PA_Voter_ID_072712.html and a detailed criticism of the ACLU's legal arguments is available at http://www.conservativeblog.org/amyridenour/2012/8/1/dont-believe-the-aclu.html.