Gov. Tom Corbett:
Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary of State Carol Aichele issued the following statements today in response to Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision on the Voter ID law:
"We are pleased with Judge Simpson's decision to uphold the constitutionality of the voter ID law,'' Corbett said. "While we believe we have made it possible for every registered voter who needs voter identification to obtain one, we'll continue our efforts for the next election and all future elections, to make sure every registered voter has the proper identification in an effort to preserve the integrity of our voting process in Pennsylvania."
Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele:
"The streamlined process put in place by the Corbett Administration to help all voters get IDs would have allowed all voters to have acceptable ID by November. However, the judge has concerns about this, and thus the same procedure will be in effect for this election as for the spring primary, in that voters will be requested to show ID, but ID will not be required to vote.
"We will continue our education and outreach efforts, as directed by the judge in his order, to let Pennsylvanians know the voter ID law is still on track to be fully implemented for future elections, and we urge all registered voters to make sure they have acceptable ID.
"This law is designed to preserve the integrity of every vote by doing what we can to make sure each voter is who they claim to be at the polls, and we are confident this law will be fully implemented in future elections.''
From election law expert Rick Hasen of Cal-Irvine:
In a nutshell, the judge has found that there will still be at least some voter disenfranchisement caused by the new law, because it does not appear that Pa. officials could get id's into the hands of everyone who wants one before the election. There earlier PA Supreme Court decision required the judge to enjoin enforcement of the law if he found disenfranchisement on remand, and he has.
But the judge enjoined only part of the law. UPDATE and CORRECTION: The state may still ask for id. But it must accept a ballot even if the voter fails to have id. It will not be necessary to cast a provisional ballot. [This is a correction from en earlier post.] This may cause confusion at the polls, as the state will still have poll workers ask for id, even though a voter can vote without it.
The state may appeal. I expect any state argument along these lines to be rejected by the state Supreme Court, given the last ruling.
And after the election there will be a full trial on whether or not to permanently enjoin the law. I predict that after this election, the PA courts will in fact uphold the voter id law, perhaps even on a unanimous vote of the state Supreme Court.
Wendy Weiser, Democracy Program Director of voter ID opponents Brennan Center for Justice, at NYU:
"Today's decision is a clear victory for Pennsylvania voters and the cause of voting rights across the country. As the Commonwealth Court ruled, implementing a sweeping new voter ID law so close to an election would prevent eligible citizens from voting and having their say in our democracy. We are pleased the Court refused to allow politicians to manipulate the system for their own benefit by rushing through new voting requirements that would keep out legitimate voters. Now, we must ensure voters are informed of their rights and poll workers are trained properly so no voter is turned away because they don't have ID. As the leading democracy in the world, our voting system should be free, fair, and accessible to all Americans. Today's ruling will help ensure it fulfills that promise."
Allegheny County Controller and voter ID opponent Chelsa Wagner:
"The decision to delay Pennsylvania's Voter ID law is a victory for democracy and fair elections, albeit a temporary one. It is clear that this law could not have been implemented in the few short weeks before a high-turnout election without chaos at the polls and qualified voters being turned away.
"However, we must begin working now to ensure that every voter is prepared for future elections. In addition, the Commonwealth must provide funding to the counties, which are responsible for the nuts and bolts of our elections. Allegheny County alone has more than 1,300 polling places and more than 7,000 Election Day workers. The ID law should not be another unfunded mandate on our County, which has already incurred costs due to the uncertainty surrounding the law.
"Despite the ruling, there is little doubt that the ID law could still have a chilling effect on some voters. Disenfranchisement cannot be allowed to occur in Pennsylvania—the birthplace of our democracy. Every elected official regardless of party should now rededicate themselves to increasing voter participation, not limiting it."
Gerry Hudson, international executive vice president of voter ID opponents Service Employees Internationial Union:
"This is a great day for democracy in Pennsylvania. Voters who lack photo ID, mostly elderly, disabled and poor Pennsylvanians, will no longer have to jump through multiple hoops just so they can vote in this election.
"The very foundation of our democracy – the sacred right to vote – was threatened by the burdensome photo ID requirement. Thankfully, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will now be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote this November without fear of being turned away simply because they lack an unexpired photo ID."
Obama for America Pennsylvania Senior Advisor for Communications Desiree Peterkin-Bell:
"Today's decision means one thing for Pennsylvanians: eligible voters can vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections in the state.
"The right to vote and choose our leaders is at the heart of what it means to be an American. The President and his campaign are committed to making sure that every eligible voter, regardless of party, has the ability to make their voices heard and participate in the electoral process.
"We encourage voters who have questions about voting to call our toll free Voter Hotline at 855-834-VOTE (8683) and to register by next Tuesday's deadline, October 9. Regardless of party affiliation, we support ensuring any voter eligible to cast a ballot has the right to do so."
Pa House Minority Leader Frank Dermody:
"The court order ensures that no citizen will be deprived of the constitutional right to vote as a result of the voter suppression law pushed through by Governor Corbett and Republican legislators," Dermody said, "at least not this year."
The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research:
Washington, D.C. - According to legal experts with the National Center for Public Policy Research's Voter Identification Task Force, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision to not affirm Pennsylvania's new voter ID law in full is an affront to reason and an example of liberal judicial activism at its worst.
"Today's ruling is a temporary setback for Voter ID. Notably the Court's ruling accepts the principle that the voter ID rules are legal. Unfortunately the timing of the change meant that Pennsylvanians will have to wait one more election cycle before they can be sure their elections are fraud-free," said National Center adjunct fellow Horace Cooper.
Pennsylvania's law, passed earlier this year by state legislators and signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett, would have required in-person voters to present one of eight different acceptable forms of identification to vote in all upcoming elections. The law contained religious and indigent exceptions and allowed for provisional ballots. Pennsylvania also instituted the ability for the poor to obtain free voter-only IDs.
In August, Judge Simpson upheld the law against the American Civil Liberties Union's call for an injunction. On appeal, and with a national election just a few months away, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asked Simpson to reconsider the injunction.
According to Simpson, the provisional ballot provision of the Pennsylvania law is unworkable with a national election little more than a month away.
"Judge Simpson should have held strong to his prior convictions and the rule of law, rather than bending to the race baiters and fraud enablers," said National Center general counsel Justin Danhof. "The ACLU's case relied on flawed data, racial rhetoric and plaintiffs who should have been excused since they can all obtain photo IDs."
Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason:
"I am disappointed by today's ruling to postpone the full implementation of a commonsense reform that helps protect the sanctity of our electoral process. We shouldn't have to wait for this commonsense reform to be enacted. With that being said, Voter ID is still Pennsylvania law, was found to be constitutional and we will work to encourage voters to bring their photo identification with them to the polls.
"Poll after poll has shown that Pennsylvanians from both political parties overwhelmingly support Voter ID legislation because, despite the empty rhetoric to the contrary, this legislation is still about ensuring one person, one vote. Our Party remains committed to the citizens of the Commonwealth and we will do all that we can to ensure free and fair elections."
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa:
"In my view, the court's decision is the correct one in blocking the voter ID law from taking effect this November. The court is trying to deal with an ill-conceived and short-sighted law.
"There has been so much controversy about this law, I still believe that some voters will not come out to vote fearing that they do not have the proper ID and therefore be disenfranchised.
"At the very least, the ruling means that voters will not be prevented from casting their votes and having them counted.
"Eligible voters should go and exercise their right to vote on Election Day and not worry about whether they have a photo ID. The whole controversy is a product of a short-sighted partisan political calculation. By not voting, partisanship wins so voters should not let that happen."
Pennsylvania Democratic chairman Jim Burn:
"Today is a significant victory in the fight to make sure everyone has the right to vote in November, but the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is remaining vigilant to ensure that voters are educated about the voting process and they are protected when they cast their vote."
Voter ID opponents at the NAACP:
Benjamin Todd Jealous, President & CEO of the NAACP:
"Today's ruling is a victory for the Pennsylvania voter. On November 6, voters will no longer need to produce an identification to ensure that their vote is counted. As we look towards 2013, the Pennsylvania NAACP will take this battle from the courts to the legislature. We are confident that this state will not tolerate voter suppression."
Jerome Mondesire, President of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference:
"The ruling today is encouraging for all Pennsylvanians. Unfortunately, it is a decision that should have been made a long time ago. With 35 days left until Election Day, the state must work with the NAACP and other leading organizations to limit voter confusion. We will work to ensure that poll workers do not wrongly enforce the law, and that all counties are monitored on Election Day."
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai:
"Today's decision by the Commonwealth Court upholds Act 18, and voter identification, and that is good.
"Voter Identification is about ensuring the integrity of our elections and preserving the principle of the 'One person, One vote' doctrine.
"When votes are diluted through fraud, the system starts to break down. Voter identification has always been about creating a level playing field where every Pennsylvanian's vote represents an equal opportunity to have a voice in government.
"The fact is, the election integrity provisions that have passed the House have been to preserve the right of every citizen who is entitled to vote to be able to vote, and every citizen who votes should be sure that his or her vote has not been diluted by somebody else's fraud."
Sharon Ward, director of voter ID opponents Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:
"The court's decision is welcome news and an acknowledgement that the implementation of Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law has been inadequate and has needlessly put the voting rights of many Pennsylvanians at risk. The decision allows voters, troubled over the hardship involved in obtaining an ID, to rest easier tonight.
"This decision is an important but temporary fix. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has documented persistent and widespread confusion over this law among PennDOT staff and voters seeking IDs. The commonwealth must address these problems and demonstrate it is capable of constructing a clear system that gets eligible voters the ID they will need. If it cannot do so, the commonwealth must reconsider the law altogether."
Cranberry Republican Daryl Metcalfe, a voter ID supporter:
"Although I am pleased that a full injunction was not granted and that Pennsylvania will at least have some voter photo identification requirement and new absentee ballot provisions in place this November, Justice Simpson's final decision is out of bounds with the rule of law, constitutional checks and balances for the individual branches of state government, and most importantly, the will of the people. Rather than making a ruling based on the constitution and the law, this judicial activist decision is skewed in favor of the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic to meet the commonsense requirements to obtain an acceptable photo ID.
"With a recent Franklin and Marshall poll showing that 99 percent of respondents possess a valid photo ID and several others showing that a strong majority of voters have no problem presenting one at the polls to protect their legitimate votes from being canceled out by the forces of corruption, it is beyond a dereliction of legal authority for any activist like Justice Simpson to thwart the will of the people by legislating from the bench or recreating the law to allow the Corbett administration to implement this new law that was adopted through the people's elected voice in an even more lax manner. It is also beyond the scope of executive authority for the Corbett administration to create a new Department of State unsecure voting ID that is not provided for under current law set forth by the legislative branch.
"Rather than using today's ruling as an opportunity to increase both voter integrity and accountability by requiring every Pennsylvania voter to prove they are who they say they are by presenting a valid photo ID before casting a vote, as Constitutionally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Simpson and the Corbett administration have chosen to openly enable and fully embrace the ever-increasing entitlement mentality of those individuals who have no problem living off the fruits of their neighbors' labor. Although ensuring a fair and fraud-free election process is a fundamental responsibility of government, both the executive branch and judicial branch are failing the people by overstepping the boundaries of their constitutional authority."
The Independence Hall Tea Party PAC:
Philadelphia, PA (October 2, 2012) -- Independence Hall Tea Party PAC President, Don Adams, called today's ruling by PA Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson--placing an injunction on a critical portion of the voter ID law which would require voters to produce a photo ID before voting--an inexcusable act of judicial fiat.
"Bottom line, we are concerned that Judge Simpson's ruling could open the doors for voter fraud--particularly in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties--during the upcoming November Presidential election," said Mr. Adams.
"We're asking Governor Tom Corbett to appeal this decision back to the Supreme Court so we can get the Justices on record in this critical matter.
"What's amazing is how easily Judge Simpson was willing to reverse his own ruling, issued just a few weeks ago--after a lengthy hearing of several weeks--in which he found no evidence that the voter ID law would lead to voter disenfranchisement.
"But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Judge Simpson to 'review' his decision--specifically on disenfranchisement--in effect forcing him to reverse himself or, more than likely, be overruled by the court. After a brief two day hearing, Judge Simpson opted to overrule himself.
"Neither the PA Supreme Court nor Judge Simpson found the voter ID law, which was signed into law last March, unconstitutional. Yet this injunction overturns the timetable for implementation of the photo ID provision as established in the law by the PA Assembly--which represents the will of the people," Mr. Adams said.
"A recent Philadelphia Inquirer poll found that nearly 70% of PA residents favor the law--but Judge Simpson and the PA Supreme Court found a way to prevent the 'teeth' of the law from taking effect. That is the definition of legislating from the bench.
The law had already been in effect for the April, 2012 Pennsylvania Primary.
"If Judge Simpson's decision is not appealed by Governor Corbett, we will hold the Governor accountable in the 2014 gubernatorial primary," said Mr. Adams.
Opponents at the United Steelworkers:
"Today's ruling is a victory for everyone who values fairness in our democratic process, and anyone who supports the idea of one person, one vote," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "It is important that those who are legally registered be able to cast their votes without these completely unnecessary restrictions, which were clearly designed to deliver elections to Republicans."
The Pennsylvania Voter ID law, one of the most restrictive in the country, generated national publicity when it went into effect this March. Opponents filed a lawsuit in May to stop the law, which the state said could prevent 760,000 legally registered voters from casting ballots. According to today's injunction, voters may be asked for IDs this November, but they will still be able to vote if they do not have one.
"Today we celebrate the fact that everyone's vote will count this fall in Pennsylvania," said Fred Redmond, USW International Vice President for Human Affairs. "But our work is far from over. Now, we must continue to fight to make sure that right-wing efforts to suppress the vote do not survive in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the United States, now and in the future."