Lawmakers and non-profit groups across the state are responding to Wednesday’s court ruling against a request to prevent the implementation of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law. The law requires all voters in the state to show a government-approved photo ID before stepping into the voting booth. Supporters say it is needed to prevent voter fraud, opponents say it will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.
Senator Jay Costa
State Senate Minority Leader Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said, “The decision of the court is highly disturbing and disconcerting. 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.
“Taking away a citizen’s right to vote and participate in a democracy is a serious matter. No one who is eligible to vote should be prevented from casting their ballot… That is why 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.”
Representative Mike Turzai
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) reacted by saying, “The integrity of each and every valid vote was upheld today…The many election reforms enacted, including voter ID, are aimed to ensure citizens and registered voters have the right to vote and have their vote counted. It’s about one person, one vote, and each instance of fraud dilutes legitimate votes.
“It is unfortunate, but there has been a history of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. The elections in the Commonwealth will be on a more level playing field thanks to Voter ID and other recent election reforms.”
Representative Dan Frankel
State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said, “This court ruling represents an injustice for hundreds of thousands of people. The judge disregarded the clear evidence of the disproportionate burden and costs this law places on many people who don't have an ID that qualifies or all of the necessary documents to obtain one… The judge also relied heavily on the promised Department of State ID – which still isn't available.”
Frankel called on his constituents to make sure they have the proper ID and to begin efforts to get a new ID if needed as soon as possible.
Governor Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said the state will continue to work toward “ensuring that every Pennsylvania citizen who wants to vote has the identification necessary to make sure their vote counts.’’
Secretary Carol Aichele
Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, whose department oversees elections in Pennsylvania, also issued a statement. “… This law will reinforce the principle of one person, one vote. By giving us a reliable way to verify the identity of each voter, the Voter ID law will enhance confidence in our elections.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn released at statement that read in part, “While I hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will do the right thing with regard to this unjust law, we cannot count on that. I urge any voter with any doubt about his or her ID to check today whether it will be accepted at the polls."
The case is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Senate Democrats filed an amicus brief in support of granting a preliminary injunction.
The NAACP responded to the ruling. “Nearly a month ago, a Pennsylvania state representative openly professed the intent of the voter ID law. Today, that same brand of politics can claim victory in suppressing the vote,” Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP President Jerome Mondesire.
On the national level NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “The court had a chance to intercede the PA legislators’ attempt to suppress the vote on Election Day, however, with today’s decision and the estimated amount of Pennsylvanians who lack the required photo ID, we will witness a marked decrease in voter turnout and in the number of ballots that will be counted on and after Election Day.”