Monday, January 20, 2014

Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law

The extension of voting rights is a major part of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The struggle against disenfranchisement, however, continues following the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the Republicans' attempt to suppress the vote, including among minorities, the young and the poor. One recalls Pennsylvania GOP leader Mike Turzai's prediction that Voter ID laws will "allow Gov. Romney to win"–an admission of such laws' actual intent, despite protestations of "voter fraud." One positive move in that state is the ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley stating that the voter ID law passed by Republicans is unconstitutional. The ruling, however, does not directly affect other states such as Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin with Voter ID laws:

Commonwealth court judge Bernard McGinley concluded the state's voter ID law, introduced by Republican-controlled state legislature in 2012, disenfranchised “hundreds of thousands” of voters who could not easily meet the requirements set by the state.

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal,” the judge said, adding: “Disenfranchising voters through no fault of the voter himself is plainly unconstitutional.”

...In one particularly damning section of his ruling, Judge McGinley found there was no evidence the legislation was even intended to stamp out voter fraud, which was the justification given by state lawmakers when they passed the law.

Although the ruling was a significant one for Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters, legal scholars said it had only limited implications for the rest of the country, where similar laws have passed from state to state.

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