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PA judge partially blocks voter ID law

October 2, 2012

HARRISBURG, PA — A Pennsylvania judge has blocked part of the controversial new Voter ID Law, which would require all voters to produce a state-approved voter photo ID in order to vote.

Judge Robert Simpson had been ordered to revisit the case by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Before he issued his ruling, state officials made changes to the process of obtaining a photo ID through the Department of State (DOS) to address the Supreme Court's reservations about the process, and they sought to assure Judge Robert Simpson that the process would work.

Simpson however, said, as the Supreme Court had instructed, he could not rely only on the word of officials in making his determination. He also had other concerns.

He wrote, "The proposed changes are to occur about five weeks before the general election, and I question whether sufficient time now remains to attain the goal of liberal access."

And, "The proposed changes are accompanied by candid admissions by government officials that any new deployment will reveal unforeseen problems which impede implementation. These admissions were corroborated by anecdotal evidence offered by Petitioners regarding the initial roll out of the DOS IDs in August."

Therefore, the judge blocked portions of the law, specifically the part that requires all voters to produce approved photo IDs in the general election on November 6.

Polling workers will still be able to ask voters to see a photo ID, but if the voter does not have one he or she won't be prevented from voting.

However, the 17-page ruling makes clear that the law may be allowed to go ahead later if the other reservations about the law can be successfully addressed by state officials.

Additionally, the judge ruled that the state could continue with its voting education campaign which as of now still contains the message that voters need a photo ID.