The ruling means that the Republican-backed voter ID law remains in effect for now. Opponents fear the law will suppress turnout among key Democratic constituencies, and have vowed to appeal.
Stephen Flood/AP/The Express-Times
The ruling was the latest salvo in an escalating legal war across the country over voting procedures and requirements in advance of the November presidential election.
The case is one of several voter ID laws passed by Republican lawmakers that are being challenged in court as a form of voter suppression. Supporters say showing ID at the polls is an efficient safeguard against voter fraud, including voting by non-citizens.
After Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed the ID law in March, the state House majority leader boasted that the new requirement would help deliver the state’s key electoral votes to Mr. Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
In his ruling, Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson called the politician’s remarks “disturbing,” and “tendentious,” but he said the voter ID applies equally to all voters in the state and does not violate any constitutional protections.
The new law “does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors,” Judge Simpson wrote.
“It imposes only a limited burden on voters’ rights, and the burden does not outweigh the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep,” he said in the 70-page decision.