The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

August 1, 2013

Voter ID 12-day trial ends

HARRISBURG — The 12-day trial over Pennsylvania’s tough voter-identification law ended Thursday with the state contending that officials have provided safeguards to ensure any registered voter can easily get the mandatory photo ID and plaintiffs urging the judge to overturn the law because it violates voters’ constitutional rights.

“It is time to put an end to this and enjoin the law,” Jennifer Clarke, director of Philadelphia’s Public Interest Law Center and a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team, told Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley.

Philadelphia lawyer Alicia Hickok, arguing for the state, said the plaintiffs failed to show that the law is unconstitutional.

State officials have done “whatever is possible, whatever is necessary and whatever is legal” to ensure that voters know about the new law and how to apply for a free, voting-only card if they lack any other acceptable forms of ID, Hickok said.

The plaintiffs are the NAACP, the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, the Philadelphia’s Homeless Advocacy Project and two individual voters.

It was unclear how soon McGinley would rule on the case, although it would be after the 30-period he allowed for lawyers to file post-trial briefs.

Both sides have vowed to appeal a negative decision to the state’s high court.

Hickok told McGinley the state would agree to postpone enforcement of the March 2012 law for a third time in the Nov. 5 municipal and judicial election, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers demanded concessions.

Washington lawyer Michael Rubin said any such stipulation should remain in force until all appeals have been exhausted.

McGinley said he would rule on a requested preliminary injunction by Aug. 19.

 

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