The recently proposed voter ID laws leave behind them polarizing interpretations, not only in Pennsylvania where they were put before the court. Some people see them as a necessary measure to ensure voter safety, while others see them as a meditated attempt to disenfranchise minority voters. In Pennsylvania, at least, there is finally a ruling about the nature of these laws, where the proposed measures have been struck down, being called an “unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote.”
The controversial law was denied on Friday by Judge Bernard McGinley of the PennsylvaniaCommonwealth. McGinley wrote that he believes the law posses a “substantial threat” to the rights of all individuals seeking to uphold their civic responsibilities.
This law was proposing that all voters would have to show a “particular state issued photo ID before casting ballots.” Pennsylvania Republicans supported the passing of this bill in Pennsylvania while state Democrats opposed the measure. The same sides seem to be cropping up across the country when these ID laws are proposed.
Republicans in Pennsylvania said that having photo ID was a “common-sense” requirement to ensure voter safety. Those opposed said that it was clearly an effort to limit the amount of minorities who would vote in the next elections because they tend to live in the cities where owning a car is not a necessity and therefore may not have a drivers’ license or another form of acceptable photo ID.
The legal challenger to the proposed measures was Viviette Applewhite, a 93 year old, who served as the plaintiff in the American Civil Liberties Union case. Applewhite would not be able to vote under the new laws because she does not have a birth certificate or non-driving license. Applewhite is a long time Philadelphian and a long time voter. She had two copies of her birth certificate but they were both burned up in two different house fires. She also had her Social Security card stolen.
One side sees her case as a prop used to deflect this bill, while the other sees her as an example of the relentless bureaucracy this law would impose upon a citizen who is simply trying to uphold the same civic responsibilities she has been doing for years.
This decision will lead to the expected appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This summer there was a 12 day trial full of documents and appeals in the battle over this law which has since been struck down in Pennsylvania due to the threat it posses upon the elderly and minorities who may not have the proper photo identification to make them able to be registered under the new laws.
Pennsylvania courts have been barring the enforcement of this law since the general election in 2012.
The fight over voter ID laws is far from over. This decision will be appealed and more propositions will be enacted in other states in the coming future. For now a ruling is on the books in Pennsylvania where Judge Bernard McGinley struck this law down saying it did not greatly help voter security and caused an unnecessary hindrance to seniors and minorities.
By Nick Manai