Pa. Voter ID Ruling Puts Burden on Commonwealth
Tuesday's Pa. Supreme Court ruling on a challenge to the Voter ID law now puts the burden on the commonwealth to prove that no voters will be disenfranchised by the photo ID requirement.
It's now up to the Commonwealth to prove that no voters will be disenfranchised by a controversial new Voter ID law after Tuesday's Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling.
The high court sent a challenge to the law back down to Commonwwealth Court where a judge has until Oct. 2 to determine if adequate measures are in place for voters to get a free photo ID in time for the Nov. 6 general election
Three GOP and one Democratic justice made up the 4-2 majority in the ruling.
One of the two dissenting Democrats on the panel accused the court of "punting" and said the law should be blocked now.
The court shifted the burden in the case from challengers to the Commonwealth.
"We are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials," the court wrote regarding arguments that voters would not be disenfranchised by the law.
The Supreme Court says that the lower court is obligated to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the law if it finds any voters are being disenfranchised.
"We think the Commonwealth is going to have trouble. It's a very high standard," said David Gersh, attorney for the plaintiffs.
PennDOT and the Department of State have issued about 9,000 photo IDs for voting purposes since March - but the state says about 100,000 voters in Pennsylvania lack photo IDs.
Agencies would have to issue 13,000 photo IDs per week to catch up in time for the general election.
Once Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson issues his new ruling, the Supreme Court will stand ready to expedite any further appeals in the case before Election Day.
Simpson, of Nazareth, is a former Northampton County judge.
The Voter ID law challenge has been described as a case of contradictions.