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Hot off the presses:

A judge is postponing Pennsylvania's tough new voter identification requirement, ordering that it not be enforced in the presidential election.

Tuesday's ruling comes just five weeks before the election. An appeal is possible. The 6-month-old law requires each voter to show a valid photo ID.

Democrats and groups including the AARP and NAACP mounted a furious opposition to a law Republicans say is necessary to prevent election fraud. Critics have accused Republicans of using old-fashioned Jim Crow tactics to steal the White House and have highlighted stories of registered voters struggling to get a state photo ID.

The law was already a partisan lightning rod when a top Republican lawmaker boasted that it'd allow GOP nominee Mitt Romney to beat Democratic President Barack Obama in Pennsylvania.

The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The law could go into full effect next year, under Simpson's ruling.

However, Simpson 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.

Of course, getting this passed next year would completely defeat the purpose.  Not that the GOP wouldn't want to limit voting rights in general, but this law was clearly aimed at impacting the presidential race.


According to, the ruling states that voters without ID will be able to cast provisional ballots, but will NOT have to show their ID within six days:

As written, the law said voters who do not bring proper photo ID on Election Day can cast a provisional ballot. They would then have six days to bring in the required photo ID for their votes to count.

But as he had indicated last week during hearings in the case, Simpson decided that the law does not disenfranchise voters simply because it requires poll workers to ask for photo ID. Rather, the risk comes when a voter casts a provisional ballot but then cannot obtain the necessary identification in time.

As a result, Simpson decided that for the November 6 election only, voters without appropriate photo ID could vote, but would no longer have to produce identification within six days, as their votes would be counted.

Perhaps this isn't a total victory:
[Attorneys seeking to block the law] argued that a partial injunction would create two classes of voters, since election rules require that provisional ballots be counted not on Election Day but at a later date, at which point they could also be subject to challenges from political parties and ultimately not be counted.

7:40 AM PT: Basically, this means that if Pennsylvania is too close to call after all of the non-provisional ballots are counted, the provisional ballots cast by those without ID (and others) would decide the race.

Presumably those provisional ballots would heavily favor President Obama (the reason the GOP passed this law in the first place), so that unlikely turn of events would still favor him,

However, as the lawyers point out, those ballots would be under intense scrutiny by GOP lawyers seeking to discredit any Obama vote they can.  Florida in 2000, anyone?

8:42 AM PT:Commenter noofsh writes:

The ruling extends the rules that applied during the last PA primary into the general election.  It is an injunction.  There is a "soft requirement" to show ID meaning that poll workers can ask but the voter does not have to produce an ID AND most importantly a provisional does NOT need to be cast.

There are new rules around provisional ballots - cast for other reasons - but the injunction applies to those rules as well.

Sorry about all the confusion... I've read several different interpretations of this law, disagreeing on whether those without ID will have to vote via provisional ballot or the "regular" way.

It appears (I believe!) that voters without ID will be able to cast traditional ballots.

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