As the showdown between PresidentBarack Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney takes shape before the November elections, the courts of battleground state Pennsylvania are battling over a controversial voter ID law. On Tuesday, the state’s highest court sent word to the lower Commonwealth Court to stop the divisive law from going ahead as planned. A decision of 4-2 by the state’s Supreme Court ruled that Judge Robert Simpson must prove that voters will not be disenfranchised as a result of the law by October 2.
The issue has caught the attention of the nation as a close presidential race could be swayed by states suddenly instituting voting laws, even though it has been proven that voter ID fraud is a nonissue.
Civil rights organization Advancement Project, one of the leading groups challenging the law, has been on the front lines with the hopes that the lower courts will uphold the high court’s decision.
“We’re glad to see that Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking the actual impact on voters seriously,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis in a statement. “Requiring the state to prove the law will not disenfranchise voters is the right step to take. We’re confident that the evidence demonstrates that this law does disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters and should be enjoined.”
Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair added, “Today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is a big step in the right direction for the Commonwealth’s voters.”
If Judge Simpson and the Commonwealth Court cannot show strong evidence that the voter ID law is harmful to the democratic process, an injunction against the law could be enacted before the November elections. Hopefully this coming decision — should it be favorable to voters — will inspire a trend of due process for other states mired in such debate over voting rights laws.