Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is back in the spotlight. Sort of.
The legislation, which supporters say would prevent fraud at the ballot box, provoked a lawsuit last year. Plaintiffs argue the law unconstitutionally deters poor and minority voters, because they’re less likely to have the photo identification required by the law on Election Day.
Just weeks before the presidential election, with tensions high, the state Supreme Court delayed implementation of the law until after November.
It also threw the case back to a lower court.
A small group gathered in the sunny office of state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown in Northwest Philadelphia on Monday to ride in a van to Harrisburg to watch the trial. They agree that, this time around, the issue has a lower profile.
Brown said that last fall, she had young people dragging a red wagon house to house in her district, checking whether residents had the photo identification they would need to vote on Election Day under the new law.
“It’s much more challenging today to get the momentum that we had a year ago,” she acknowledged Monday.
Back then, there was a presidential election and the state had launched a campaign to get the word out about the law.
Opponents of the law did hold a rally in Harrisburg last week. And the Rev. Emma Oliver was one of those who decided to take the van to hear opening statements because she wants to maintain a show of opposition in the courtroom.
“Had my grandmother been alive today, she would have kicked me for not being on that van,” said Oliver.
Also, in an environment where fewer people seem to know or care as much about the cause, being in the courtroom, she believes, will make the voter ID debate feel more real.