Pennsylvania’s Strict Voter ID Law Upheld

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The Rev. Benjamin T. Hailey, president of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention, speaks during an NAACP-organized rally on the Capitol steps protesting the state's tough, new voter identification law on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 in Harrisburg, Pa. Democrats say the law is an election year stunt to steal the White House. Republicans say it's necessary to prevent voting fraud. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

An NAACP-organized rally on the Capitol steps protesting the state's tough, new voter identification law on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

A Pennsylvania judge upheld the state’s strict new voter ID laws on Wednesday. The decision was a blow to voting rights advocates who expected a slam dunk victory after the state admitted it was not aware of a single incident of in-person voter fraud and the state’s House majority leader made it clear that the law was politically motivated.

In a 70-page order, Judge Robert E. Simpson, a Republican, said opponents failed to show “that disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.” Simpson did not rule on the full merits of the case, only on whether or not to grant a temporary injunction.

Civil rights advocates say the law, which could affect as many as 750,000 registered voters who don’t have the required ID, will disproportionately keep poor, elderly, minority and student voters away from the polls.

Opponents plan to appeal the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is currently divided equally with three Democrats and three Republicans (the seventh member, Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican, is currently suspended due to unrelated corruptions charges). A tie would uphold the law.

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