Judge Blocks Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Ahead of Election
A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday blocked the state from enforcing its strict voter ID law before the presidential election, citing "disenfranchisement" concerns. The ruling in a vital battleground state comes five weeks before the election.
The ruling, which could still be appealed, followed two days of testimony about the state's efforts to make it easier to get a valid photo ID, as well as possible hurdles for those seeking proper identification.
The challenge to the six-month-old law is one of several across the country to laws -- largely backed by Republican legislators -- requiring voters to show photo identification.
Republicans say the laws are necessary to prevent election fraud. But Democrats, who in Pennsylvania joined up with the AARP and NAACP in opposition, claim residents could be blocked from exercising their right to vote.
Judge Robert Simpson said in his opinion Tuesday he anticipates that by Election Day, "the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed."
He added: "Consequently, I am not still convinced in my predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election."
The law was already a partisan lightning rod when a top Republican lawmaker boasted over the summer that it would allow Republican nominee Mitt Romney to beat Democratic President Obama in Pennsylvania.
Republicans, long suspicious of ballot-box stuffing in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia, justified the law as a protection against potential election fraud.
Critics claim it could suppress minority turnout.