PENNSYVLANIA - A Pennsylvania judge rejected a challenge to the state's controversial new voter ID law today. Lawyers for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), the Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC, law firm of Arnold & Porter, had argued that the law puts up unconstitutional barriers to the fundamental right to vote and threatens to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people without valid ID. The groups plan to appeal the judge's decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
"I just can't believe it," said Viviette Applewhite, the 93-year-old lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. "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."
During the recent seven-day trial, lawyers for the petitioners established that in person voter fraud is exceedingly rare, hundreds of thousands of voters are at risk of being disenfranchised if the law stays in place, and the commonwealth is woefully unprepared to ensure that every voter who needs ID will get one before Election Day. The new Department of State "for voting only" ID is not yet available and not every voter will qualify for one. Prior to the trial, the commonwealth stipulated that it knows of no in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Supporters of the law claimed that the law was necessary to stop voter fraud.
The following statement can be attributed to Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director, ACLU of Pennsylvania:
"Given clear evidence that impersonation fraud is not a problem, we had hoped that the court would show greater concern for the hundreds of thousands of voters who will be disenfranchised by this law."
The following statement can be attributed to Jennifer Clarke, executive director, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP):
"The determined men and women who came to court to describe their love of this country because we can all participate through the ballot box, will simply have to wait for another day and another court to vindicate this most cherished of all rights."
The following statement can be attributed to David Gersch, Arnold & Porter:
'We are disappointed but will seek to appeal. At trial, we demonstrated that there are about a million registered voters who lack the ID necessary to vote under Pennsylvania's photo ID law. If the court's decision stands, a lot of those people will not be able to vote in November."
The following statement can be attributed to Penda Hair, co-director, Advancement Project:
"This is a huge setback for the right to vote. It's contrary to core American values and sadly takes us back to a dark place in our country's history. We hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will see through this and affirm that all Pennsylvania voters have a right to be heard at the ballot box."
Read more about the Applewhite et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al. case.