Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Robert Simpson delayed Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law from taking affect prior to the 2012 Election this morning, after he was order by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to decide if the state complied with the law's promise of providing photo ID access to all eligible voters in anticipation of Election Day, Nov. 6.
The ruling, which can be challenged to the State Supreme Court before Election Day, was a hot topic among Patch readers, who were split on the issue, which seemed to be the thin line between electoral integrity and voter suppression.
Many readers were relieved by the ruling.
"This ruling alleviates the pressure put on registered voters to comply with the law in the short time span they had prior to this ruling," said former Collegeville Borough Council President Andrea Baptiste. "The postponement does not change the pointed focus of the legislation, which places a burden on many voters, especially the elderly, minorities, people with disabilities and those who do not typically need a driver’s license and who do not typically have the types of identification required by this onerous law."
Kelly Devine, candidate for state representative in the 150th Legislative District, appreciates that the law will provide the state more time to comply with the law.
"I think holding off on the new Voter ID law until next year was a great move by the PA courts," said Devine. "The state did not have enough time to prepare for and comply with this complicated law in so short a time... I'm very pleased that every eligible voter across the state now has the guarantee that their vote is heard."
"Thank goodness that we're not leading the way in voter suppression this year," Elizabeth Stolar said on the Perk Valley Patch Facebook Page. "There seems to be a plan to still ask voters for ID, even though it is not required. But this is still a positive development."
Several readers argued that the bill was not voter suppression or disenfranchisement, but a law to prevent voter fraud.
"We unfortunately are currently living in a society where, well, people aren't very honest," said Douglass Twp. Constable and Patch Blogger Joshua Stouch on Facebook. "Fraudulent activity occurs in nearly every facet of life nowadays, so what would make anyone think that it hasn't or isn't going to occur when voting?"
Other readers brought up the fact that valid photo IDs are requested in most facets of life.
"Does this mean that people are disenfranchised when asked for their valid photo ID at the bank, hospital, airport, Social Security office, welfare office, Democratic National Convention, PSAT/SAT registration, meet & greets with the President and First Lady?" Michele Lewis Buono questioned on Facebook.
Trappe Republican Leader Jack Minster agreed.
"Smart people break things down into their simplest facts," Minster said. "The simple fact is, we need to show photo ID to TSA in airports; we show photo ID to get into government buildings and courts - what is the difference with showing photo ID to perform the most basic interaction with our government?"
"If you are qualified to vote, prove it," Minster added. "If you aren't, go get qualified."
The "getting qualified" part of the equation hung up Trudie Wheler Hadden, who echoed Simpson's sentiment on accessibility to photo ID.
"All I know is that it was going to be very hard for my 96 year old mother to get a photo ID when she needs wheelchair transportation to get to either Norristown or Dublin because the local drivers center can't do it," Hadden said. "She wants to vote. They need to make it easier for people to get the photo ID. I do believe in the photo ID but it needs to be easier to get at that age."
Chris Amentas, running for State Senate in Trappe Borough against Senator Andy Dinniman, agreed that, as long as ample time has been provided to obtain an ID, the requirement is reasonable.
"If a voter without photo ID wants to obtain one she can get one in time for the election, even at this juncture, and voters who are given a reasonable opportunity and ample time to obtain photo identification are not disenfranchised," said Amentas. "Obviously, all Pennsylvanians are required to follow a certain protocol to be able to vote. Just by way of one example, every voter needs to register. All the photo ID requirement does is add another reasonable and sensible layer to this protocol, to help ensure fair elections."
Jennifer Scippio-Bagbose disagrees with Amentas, referencing Mitt Romney's recent comment in which he told a group of Republicans that 47 percent of non-tax paying Americans believe themselves to be "victims."
"Victory for the 47 [percent]," Scippio-Bagbose said. "In fact, voter disenfranchisement at any level is a violation of 100% of registered voters! Shame on politicians who attempt to deny (registered)voters of their constitutional right to vote!"
Other readers, however, just find the law, in its original form, to be "common sense."
"This was a common sense law that should not have been blocked by one activist judge," Vickie Fell commented on Facebook.
Casey Dellangelo-Ricci echoed Fell's sentiments.
"If you are legal, you have an ID," Dellangelo-Ricci said. "If you don't, you're hiding from something or are not suppose to be here anyway. Prove that you are a citizen in this country, what is so hard about that?"
Many other readers took a more hands-off approach.
"I'm still showing my ID at the polls regardless if asked or not," Bob Johnston said on Facebook. "I'm legit."
"Every person who is entitled to vote in Pennsylvania can vote in Pennsylvania," said Montgomery County Republican Committee Bob Kerns. "This is what voter entitlement is all about."
Looking forward, however, this battle seems far from over.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for this commonsense reform to be enacted," Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said in a statement. "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."
Baptiste does not agree that this should just be a delay in the implementation of the voter ID law.
"Now, the next step is to further challenge the law and seek to get it overturned," Baptiste, who is also a Democratic State Committee person, said. "Earlier this year in March, the U.S. Department of Justice rejected the Texas Voter ID law saying that the state did not prove that the bill would not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. Each state’s laws have their own distinctive requirements and when challenges are heard by higher courts, those cases are assessed on those distinct facts and arguments."
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