2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Pa. Court Upholds Voter ID, Debate Goes On

Ruling brings strong reactions from supporters and opponents of the nation's toughest photo ID law

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC10Philadelphia
    A Pa. Commonwealth Court Judge refused Wednesday to stop the state's voter identification law from taking effect for the Decision 2012 general election on Nov. 6.

    It’s no surprise that there are widely mixed reactions to Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision Wednesday to reject a petition for an injunction to halt Pennsylvania's new voter identification law. The law will be in effect for the Nov. 6 general election and requires every voter to show photo identification for their vote to count.

    Here’s a sampling of reactions from Pa. politicians:

    Pa. Voter ID Law Upheld

    [PHI] Pa. Voter ID Law Upheld
    Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson upheld the law that will force Pennsylvania voters to show a valid photo ID. NBC10's Terry Ruggles spoke to voters who had mixed reviews about having to show photo identification before they vote. (Published Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012)

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R)
    “Now that the court has upheld the constitutionality of the law, we can continue to focus our attention on ensuring that every Pennsylvania citizen who wants to vote has the identification necessary to make sure their vote counts.”

    Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D)
    “While I expect that the legal battle over this highly questionable voter ID law will rage on in the courts and eventually be decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, we Philadelphians who live in the birthplace of our treasured democracy must do all we can to make sure that all registered voters can cast their ballots in the vitally important national election on Nov. 6.

    Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny)
    “The integrity of each and every valid vote was upheld today. As the court said, the requirements of Act 18 will be implemented in a non-partisan, even-handed manner by commonwealth agencies, and qualified voters will have their votes counted.”

    Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)
    “The decision of the court is highly disturbing and disconcerting. Without question, the goal of the voter ID law was to disenfranchise voters and suppress voting so that Republicans could gain the upper hand in this fall's presidential election.”

    Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th District)
    “I am disappointed with Judge Simpson’s decision not to block this unnecessary law. The state of Pennsylvania should be in the business of upholding the fundamental right to vote, not building road blocks to the polls. The state has yet to demonstrate the so-called phenomenon of voter fraud even exists in Pennsylvania.”

    Democrats say the law will make it harder for the elderly, minorities, poor and young adults to vote, and is designed to help Republican challenger Mitt Romney beat Democratic President Barack Obama.

    Republicans who control the Legislature and the governor's office say they think it'll prevent voter fraud.

    Here’s what state Republicans, Democrats and the Independence Hall Tea Party Association had to say Wednesday:

    Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman Rob Gleason
    “I applaud the Commonwealth Court for displaying courage and conviction in this ruling. With sensational headlines and half-truths about this legislation being touted by partisan critics, we are fortunate that the Commonwealth Court realized that the sanctity of our elections was at stake - and took appropriate action to protect a cherished right.”

    Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn
    “Pennsylvania Democrats are committed to protecting Pennsylvanians' right to vote, and we will continue to educate voters about the new ID requirements and the process to acquire an appropriate ID to ensure that all eligible voters can get to the polls and exercise their right to vote in November.”

    Independence Hall Tea Party Association President Teri Adams
    "In his 70-page decision, Judge Simpson declared that the plaintiffs, led by the ACLU, had not established that 'disenfranchisement [of voters] was immediate or inevitable,'" said Association President, Teri Adams. And we couldn't agree more.”Our group will continue to staunchly advocate for voter integrity as it relates not only to voter ID, but to voter registration as well.”

    Jennifer Austin, Obama for America campaign spokeswoman in Pennsylvania
    “Regardless of today's decision, we remain committed to working with supporters and volunteers across the state to register and educate Pennsylvanians about the voter ID law. ... Now more than ever it is important that the commonwealth follow through on its plan to make available free IDs to any voter who may need them.”

    NBC10 Philadelphia asked for opinions on Facebook: Do you think voters should have to show photo ID to cast their ballot?

    Here are some of the comments:

    Bill Crossley
    “Many stores ask for ID when using a credit card,try cashing your check without ID. I do not know why everyone is so upset.”

    Colleen Kennedy
    “The point is there has been no known voter fraud in this state. Why is this being rolled out now .... I think we all know the answer.”

    Nicole LaVonne Clark
    “Absolutely to keep things as fair as possible! I don’t mind.”

    Sharon Sherrie Lickman Kremens
    “You who think we should show id have missed the real issue. To get a valid id requires proof of who you are which is not easy for everyone. Surely in this computer age we should be able to come up with a program that will only allow one vote per registered voter.”

    Shaun Healy
    “It would be a good idea but sadly all it will do is shift the vote. It’s mostly a way for the GOP to win states.”

    Several statewide and national organizations also released statements about the voter ID ruling:

    AARP Pennsylvania State Director Ivonne Gutiérrez Bucher
    “With today’s ruling, older adults who are currently registered and have voted for years will be denied their most basic right to vote in November simply because they don’t have the right kind of identification in time for the General Election.”

    Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and Chief Executive NAACP
    “This law, like other state laws enacted across the U.S., has the potential to suppress thousands of votes in the commonwealth during this election. We will have to fight for our right to vote again.''

    Jennifer Clarke, executive director, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
    "The determined men and women who came to court to describe their love of this country because we can all participate through the ballot box, will simply have to wait for another day and another court to vindicate this most cherished of all rights."

    Check here for information on the Pennsylvania Photo ID law.