A state judge on Wednesday refused to block Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s 70-page order ruled that opponents of the law failed to establish “that disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”
Simpson did not rule on the case’s merits, only on whether it could be enjoined. Opponents of the law are expected to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
“We’re not done, it’s not over,” Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case, told the Associated Press. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”
Simpson ruled that the law “does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors. The statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be.”He said that opponents of the law “did an excellent job of ‘putting a face’ to those burdened by the voter ID requirement.”
“At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issued based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel,” Simpson ruled. “Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system.”
The law is expected to have a heavier impact on elderly voters and voters in urban areas. The state has already given a contract to a Republican lobbying company to educate voters about the law. One top Republican in Pennsylvania said the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state.
Opponents of the law were confident it would be overturned when the trial wrapped up in early August. The state had admitted it had no evidence of in-person voter fraud taking place in the state and did not expect in-person fraud to take place if the law wasn’t enacted.
The Justice Department launched a separate investigation into Pennsylvania’s voter ID law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices.