State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Trial in voter ID case "likely" to be set next summer

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 13, 2012 4:32 PM
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The case over the state’s voter ID law is likely to land back in Commonwealth Court for a full trial next summer, to give the state Supreme Court enough time before next year’s general election to hear an appeal.

Voter ID was partially blocked for the November election, but the lawyers who sued the commonwealth over the photo ID requirement want it to be overturned completely.

That’s not all they want – in an open court conference with Judge Robert Simpson Thursday, they said they’ll ask for the partial block of voter ID to be extended through the next election – so voters won’t have to show photo ID to vote in the May 21 primary.

Patrick Cawley, a commonwealth attorney, said he’s not sure how the state will respond.

“It may be unavoidable, given the logistics of what this litigation looks like, that we have to do something to alleviate the voter ID requirements for May,” said Cawley. “I don’t know if that’s going to be the case, but it’s something we have to seriously consider.”

He added that, if it looks like some kind of block is inevitable, he may argue to change how the law is blocked – for example, requiring people without proper photo ID to vote by provisional ballot.

A full trial on whether the voter ID law should stand at all has yet to be scheduled. Judge Simpson said he’ll pick a day, likely next summer, within the next two weeks.

The commonwealth is asking for a tighter timeframe on a full trial in the voter ID case, arguing that both sides have most of the information they need to go to trial. But lawyers opposing voter ID say they have to find out how the state has been maintaining its voter databases, whether it plans to launch additional voter education campaigns about voter ID, and how many voter IDs have been issued (the most recent count pegs it at 16,000 – far fewer than the most conservative estimates of eligible PA voters without proper photo ID).

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