State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

State lawyers voice willingness to extend voter ID injunction

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 1, 2013 9:26 PM

Lawyers in the trial of the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's voter identification law are in some agreement the requirement should be blocked in the election this November. Word about the state's willingness to see the voter ID law go unenforced for the fourth election in a row came during closing arguments, delivered Thursday morning.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case said they were surprised by the statement. Jennifer Clarke called it "good news for everyone," saying there was "chaos" in last year's elections, in which voter ID was asked for but not required. "We assume that the court will grant that," she said of the extended preliminary injunction.

The two legal teams disagree on the fine print - the type and length of the injunction. Challengers want the law blocked completely, saying voters in November shouldn't even be asked to show ID because it would cause confusion.

But Alicia Hickock, one of the commonwealth's lawyers, said voters should be asked to show ID, even if they aren't barred from voting without it. The procedure is otherwise known as a soft roll-out, and it's been the way things have worked in every Pennsylvania election since the law passed last year, including during this year's primary.

"We know that that soft roll-out there was nothing objectionable about it," said Hickok. "So the idea that there would be anything other than another soft roll-out - there's nothing to support that."

Opponents also want the voter ID law blocked not just for the upcoming election, but until the state Supreme Court rules on the inevitable appeal of the case.

In addition to a preliminary injunction, a Commonwealth Court judge will decide whether to strike down the law on the grounds it violates the state constitutional protection of the right to vote.

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