Governor Declines to Appeal Loss in PA Voter ID Lawsuit

May 8, 2014 12:00 am

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Trial Judge’s Decision Finding Law Unconstitutional Stands

May 8, 2014

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PHILADELPHIA – Governor Tom Corbett announced today that the commonwealth will not be appealing a Commonwealth Court judge’s ruling that prohibits enforcement of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on the grounds that the law unconstitutionally disenfranchises large numbers of voters.

On May 1, 2012, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to overturn the voter ID law passed by the General Assembly in March 2012.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley issued an order on January 17, 2014, permanently blocking the controversial photo identification law. In his opinion, Judge McGinley stated that the voter ID law “does not pass constitutional muster because there is no legal, non-burdensome provision of a compliant photo ID to all qualified electors.” He reaffirmed his opinion on April 28 when he denied the commonwealth’s motion to reconsider his earlier ruling.

The following can be attributed to Mike Rubin of Arnold & Porter LLP:
“Viviette Applewhite, Bea Bookler, and all of our other plaintiffs and witnesses stood up and fought for the right to vote for themselves and for all other Pennsylvanians. This month Viviette Applewhite – who marched with Dr. King for voting rights – will turn 95 years young. Today’s decision ensures that all voters in Pennsylvania will be able to vote and is certainly the most cherished birthday gift she will receive this year.”

The following can be attributed to Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“We commend the governor for not continuing to push a dangerous and unnecessary law that would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.”

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP):
“The state’s decision not to appeal makes it very clear that with the exception of first-time voters, poll workers simply may not ask people for identification. Period. There is no waiting around for a new decision, no new roll out, and no question that people can now cast their votes. This law is dead.”

The following can be attributed to Marian Schneider, senior attorney at Advancement Project:
The governor’s decision ensures that Pennsylvania taxpayers will not be further burdened by the costs of an appeals process, and it also ensures that there will be no further costs to our democracy. During the trial we heard the stories of numerous voters throughout the state who, despite their best efforts, were unable to get the identification that the now-invalidated voter ID law required of them to vote. This is not how a democracy should work. Today’s decision is a victory for keeping Pennsylvania elections free, fair and accessible for all voters.”

More about the lawsuit, including a timeline of events, can be found at:

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