HARRISBURG, Pa. - A judge on Tuesday blocked Pennsylvania's divisive voter identification requirement from going into effect on Election Day, delivering a hard-fought victory to Democrats who said it was a ploy to defeat President Barack Obama and other opponents who said it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said in his ruling that he was concerned by the state's stumbling efforts to create a photo ID that is easily accessible to voters and that he could not rely on the assurances of government officials at this late date that every voter would be able to get a valid ID.
If it stands, it is good news for Obama's chances in Pennsylvania, one of the nation's biggest electoral college prizes, unless Republicans and the tea party groups that backed the law find a way to use it to motivate their supporters and possibly independents.
Simpson's ruling could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, although state officials weren't ready to say Tuesday whether they would appeal. He based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Simpson's ruling will allow the law to go into full effect next year, though he could still decide later to issue a permanent injunction.
[...] Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who helped champion the law, said the state's lawyers were still analyzing it.
The state's Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason, said he was disappointed and stressed that the law is a "common-sense reform" that is supported in public polling across the political spectrum.
"Despite the empty rhetoric to the contrary, this legislation is still about ensuring one person, one vote," Gleason said.
That last GOP hatchet man - "empty rhetoric." His own rhetoric indeed may not be empty, but instead, full of it. Indeed, the AP item concluded in noting partisanship as the key dimension to things:
The law was a signature accomplishment of Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature and [GOP Governor] Corbett. Republicans, long suspicious of ballot-box stuffing in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia, justified it as a bulwark against any potential election fraud.
Every Democratic lawmaker voted against it. Some accused Republicans of using old-fashioned Jim Crow tactics to steal the White House from Obama. Other opponents said it would make it harder for young adults, minorities, the elderly, poor and disabled to vote.
A wave of new voter identification requirements have been approved in the past couple years, primarily by Republican-controlled Legislatures.
Earlier this year, a federal court panel struck down Texas' voter ID law, and a state court in Wisconsin has blocked its voter ID laws for now. The Justice Department cleared New Hampshire's voter ID law, and a federal court is reviewing South Carolina's law.
We Minnesotans have our own Kiffmeyer ballot issue, with the ALEC lady hoping, hoping, hoping.