A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge refused on Wednesday to halt a tough new law requiring voters to show a valid photo ID, according to the Associated Press.
Opponents are expected to file an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. To overturn the ruling by Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, challengers will need the votes of four of six Supreme Court justices.
The ruling is part of a furious debate over voting rights as a wave of legislation that cracks down on early voting and voter-registration sweeps the country. Democrats argue that the strict new restrictions in Pennsylvania are part of a Republican scheme that violates the state constitution and disenfranchises thousands of voters.
Those fears were reinforced recently when Republican Mike Turzai, the Pennsylvania House's majority leader, declared at a Republican State Committee meeting: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania--done.”
Republicans, who control the state Legislature and the governor’s office, argue that the restrictions will prevent voter fraud.
In Pennsylvania alone, 758,000 people do not have the necessary ID to vote under the new law--and these voters are disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities, disabled persons, students, and women. Just in Philadelphia, nearly 187,000 registered voters--18 percent of the city’s total--do not have a Pennsylvania Transportation Department-issued ID.