ACLU Will Appeal Voter ID Ruling

Aug 15, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania will file an appeal of a Commonwealth Court decision in favor of the state's new voter ID law. 

Judge Robert Simpson's ruling Wednesday allows the state government to continue with its mandate that voters present valid photo identification before casting ballots.

The ACLU now turns to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block the voter ID law with an injunction for the November 6 general election.

"If you don't have the right to vote, then all other rights are in jeopardy," said ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak. "In the situation with this voter ID law, there is no evidence of any kind of impersonation at the polls, which is the only kind of fraud that this ID would prevent."

Walczak said he and the plaintiffs presented evidence suggesting as many as one million voters could lack any of the IDs required by the voting law. He said the state presented no evidence that the law was necessary to reduce election fraud. Rather, he said Judge Simpson ruled simply that the legislature acted within its authority when it passed the measure earlier this year.

The bill was passed by GOP majorities in the House and Senate, and signed into law by Republican Governor Tom Corbett in March. No Democrats voted for the legislation, arguing that it would deter voters that traditionally vote Democratic.

"The decision of the court is highly disturbing and disconcerting," wrote Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader. "Without question, the goal of the voter ID law was to disenfranchise voters and suppress voting so that Republicans could gain the upper hand in this fall's presidential election... I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will step in and restore a person's right to vote by overturning the ruling of Commonwealth Court."

However, Judge Simpson's ruling was praised by the Pennsylvania Republican Party and Governor Corbett.

"Now that the court has upheld the constitutionality of the law, we can continue to focus our attention on ensuring that every Pennsylvania citizen who wants to vote has the identification necessary to make sure their vote counts," said Corbett, in a written statement.

Corbett's comments were echoed by state Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson.

"The Constitution doesn't have a provision that says, 'Thou shalt not pass bills that one political party prefers over the other,'" said Arneson.

Judge Simpson didn't rule on the law's constitutionality; rather, he simply decided against granting an injunction against the legislation for the November 6 general election. The voter ID measure's constitutionality is being scrutinized by the Obama administration.