Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Blocked, But Appeal Is Possible

A judge has blocked Pennsylvania's voter ID law from taking effect in time for the upcoming election, reports The Washington Post. But an appeal is possible.

The controversial law requires Pennsylvania voters to show valid photo identification at the polls. Those who were in favor of the law said that it was a necessary measure to prevent fraud at the polls, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Those against the law, however, saw it differently. They said that the law disenfranchised minority voters, specifically many of those who were likely to vote for incumbent President Barack Obama.

Currently, first-time Pennsylvania voters can show up at polling places with bank statements and utility bills instead of valid photo identification. But the new photo ID requirement would block some first-time voters from casting ballots, as the requirements to obtain a photo ID include providing two proofs of residency, a Social Security card, and U.S. citizenship documents.

With a national election on the horizon, voter fraud concerns are being raised, particularly in battleground states. Essentially, voter fraud can occur in several different ways and while it's not prosecuted that often, it's nevertheless illegal.

While fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact, voter fraud can take many forms. For example, people can potentially double-register, or register under the names of deceased persons. In any event, voter fraud is a misrepresentation of one's right to vote.

However, in Pennsylvania, lawyers for the state seemed to agree with the law's critics that voter fraud was not a big issue. They ceded in court that they were "not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud," the AP reports.

But at the end of the day, it's the right to vote that is taking center stage in the debate over Pennsylvania's voter ID law. And with many saying that the issue of voter fraud is de minimis, opponents to the law are asking whether the voter fraud argument isn't just another excuse to knock African-American voters off the polls.

Under the latest ruling, opponents of Pennsylvania's voter ID law now won't have to worry about it for the upcoming election. However, supporters of the law can potentially still appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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