Commonwealth Court judge weighs new testimony in Pa. voter ID challenge

    Commonwealth Court judge Robert Simpson is taking a second crack at a challenge to Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. Judge Simpson blocked an injunction of the law in August and is now considering new information about recently created alternative ID cards just for voting.

    The hearing was spurred by an order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for the lower court to consider whether an alternative ID card is widely available to all voters.

    Judge Simpson must rule by next Tuesday whether, even with an the alternative voting ID card, the state’s new photo identification requirement disenfranchises voters.

    Much of the early testimony focused on a new process, just finalized last night regarding the alternative ID card. The Department of State created it to serve as a “safety net,” a card of last resort for those registered voters who need photo ID but lack the documents to get a driver’s license or non-driving PennDOT ID.

    In the past, people have only been able to get the voting ID card after certifying that they have tried and been unable to get a PennDOT photo ID. A PennDOT deputy secretary says the requirement is a thing of the past.

    As of this morning, the alternative voting ID card does not require people to first try to get a driver’s license or non-driving PennDOT ID. Nor does it require people to show two proofs of residence, or specify their gender.

    One of the attorneys challenging the law questioned the PennDOT deputy secretary why this policy wasn’t in place to begin with. The reply was it’s been a learning process to implement the voter ID law.

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