In another major victory for the fundamental right to vote, today the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated a lower court opinion and sent the photo ID legislation back for further consideration. The Supreme Court’s ruling requires the district court to consider whether the state is implementing the law in a constitutional manner and actually providing identification to voters who now need it.
The implementation of Pennsylvania’s photo ID requirement has been plagued from the start, with reports of eligible voters waiting hours to obtain the documentation necessary to vote. As the Supreme Court noted, “there is little disagreement” that the population of voters affected by the photo ID requirement “includes members of some of the most vulnerable segments of our society (the elderly, disabled members of our community, and the financially disadvantaged).” As many as 750,000 registered voters—9 percent of Pennsylvania voters—do not have qualifying identification that complies with the new law. According to today’s order, if the lower court is not convinced “that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of” the photo ID law, it must issue a preliminary injunction against the new requirement.
Today’s decision reflects a growing momentum for voting rights advocates and is just the latest in a string of victories for voting rights. Just last week, we welcomed legal victories protecting voting rights in the states of Iowa and Florida.
Our efforts to protect voting rights in Pennsylvania are not over. Importantly, the lower court must make a new assessment of the state’s efforts by October 2.
Whatever the result, we will continue to dedicate unprecedented resources to voter protection. We are working on the ground in Pennsylvania and across the country to ensure that all eligible voters can cast ballots on Election Day. And, we will continue to use every resource at our disposal—including litigation, where necessary—to protect the fundamental right to vote.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion is available here.