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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Punts on Voter ID Decision Pennsylvania Supreme Court Punts on Voter ID Decision

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Voting Rights

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Punts on Voter ID Decision

The state's high court sends the case back to a lower court for a ruling on whether it will remain in effect for the Nov. 6 election.

The legal fate of Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law remains unclear after the state Supreme Court's ruling on Tuesday sending the case back to a lower court.

The court in its 4-2 decision returned the controversial voter ID case to the commonwealth court that originally upheld the law, to discern whether the state can actually get proper identification into the hands of voters before Election Day. It declined to rule on the constitutional issues involved in the voter ID law, which civil rights groups say is a Republican ploy to keep Democratic voters away from the polls.


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court readily conceded that the law is not currently being implemented the way it was intended—to allow “liberal access” to alternate ID cards for those who do not already have an acceptable form of photo ID, such as a driver’s license. The court also said the law was creating barriers to voting access for "the most vulnerable segments of our society (the elderly, disabled members of our community, and the financially disadvantaged)."

The Supreme Court asked the lower court to determine whether the law could be implemented in a way that would not disenfranchise voters in the next two months -- and if it finds in the negative, to issue an injunction to stop it from taking effect. The lower court was ordered to make a ruling on or before Oct. 2.

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