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Penn. Judge Refuses to Block Controversial Voter ID Law

Common Dreams staff

(adapted photo from programwitch / Flickr)

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled not to block a controversial voter ID law on Wednesday, which critics have said could disenfranchise as many as 750,000 registered voters

"I just can't believe it," Viviette Applewhite, of Philadelphia, the 93-year-old lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement. "Too many people have fought for the right to vote to have it taken away like this. All I want is to be able to vote this November like I always have. This law is just ridiculous."

Brentin Mock writes on ColorLines that "despite the fact that an untold number of Pennsylvania citizens lack ID — most estimates range in the hundreds of thousands — that the state’s own governor and secretary of state didn’t know the details of the law, a state legislator admitting the law would throw the election to Mitt Romney, and testimony that thousands of African Americans and Latinos would be unfairly burdened by the law, Judge Robert Simpson rejected many of the arguments made against the law, particularly that it violated the state’s constitutional protection of the right to vote."

Groups have vowed to appeal the decision.

“We're not done, it's not over,” said Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case for the plaintiffs. “It's why they make appeals courts.”

The judge's ruling in the case is available here (pdf).

Vote suppression tactics haven't been limited to Pennsylvania.  In a recent report, the Brennan Center for Justice documented restrictive voter ID laws in effect in ten states putting the right to vote of at least half a million eligible voters at risk.

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In an episode of Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers spoke with Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice about how voter ID laws enable voting suppression.

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