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Voting Rights

Voter ID Blocked in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s ALEC-linked voter ID law, known as HB 934, has been fought several times since its passage earlier this year. Defenders of the strict photo ID law state that the law prevents voter fraud – even though there haven’t been any investigations or evidence regarding the presence of voter fraud. Furthermore, many Pennsylvanians lack appropriate ID and are likely to be disenfranchised as a result of the law.

However, as of October 2, HB 934 will not be fully enforced come November. Upon instruction from the state’s Supreme Court, Judge Robert Simpson, who previously refused to grant a temporary injunction, partially blocked the enforcement of the restrictive ID requirement, striking down the provisions that required voters without identification to cast a provisional ballot and then travel to the county board of elections office within six days of voting to present their ID. Poll workers will still be able to ask voters to present an ID before voting, but voters without an ID cannot be turned away.

While it is now guaranteed that voters without an ID cannot legally be turned away, the ruling only applies for the 2012 election. Concerns over voter disenfranchisement continue to exist because voters will still be asked to provide IDs at the polls, and many may not know they are still allowed to vote without a specific ID.

Rev. Michael Couch of Berachah Baptist Church in Philadelphia and a member of PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council states:

We are grateful for this partial injunction, and will work hard to ensure that every Pennsylvania voter knows his or her rights under the law on November 6. Nothing but a full injunction of the voter ID law will truly reopen our elections to all eligible voters, but today’s decision means that nobody will be turned away from the polls for lack of ID. We will be working extra hard to make sure members of our congregations and our communities know their rights and cast a vote that counts on November 6.

As voting rights are challenged throughout the nation, it is important to remember that the right to vote is guaranteed to all. Everyone should know the voting laws in the state they live.