A judge on Tuesday ruled that Pennsylvanians will not need a photo ID to cast a vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson postponed the state’s tough new voter identification requirement, saying he was not convinced that it wouldn’t keep some people from voting, as opponents argued. Simpson’s decision will probably be the final word on the law prior to the Nov. 6 presidential election, although an appeal is possible.
Simpson’s ruling came after listening to two days of testimony about the state’s eleventh-hour efforts to make it easier to get a valid photo ID. He also heard about long lines and ill-informed clerks at driver’s license centers and identification requirements that made it hard for some registered voters to get a state-issued photo ID.
The 6-month-old law — now among the nation’s toughest — has sparked a divisive debate over voting rights and become a high-profile political issue in the contest between President Barack Obama and nominee Mitt Romney, for Pennsylvania’s prized 20 electoral votes.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters, Latino Justice, and SeniorLAW Center have argued the requirements make it impractical or extremely difficult for senior citizens, minorities, and the poor to get the IDs.