Parties in Voter ID case agree to stipulation asking for extension of preliminary injunction

By Jon Campisi | Feb 15, 2013

Both sides in the debate over the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law

Both sides in the debate over the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law

have agreed to a stipulation asking that the preliminary injunction entered by the courts that prevented the law from taking effect this past November be extended to include elections this spring.

Lawyers representing plaintiffs challenging the Voter ID law, also known as Act 18, and attorneys representing the commonwealth filed their stipulation in Commonwealth Court Feb. 18 asking Judge Robert Simpson to extend the preliminary injunction through the May 21 primary election.

The stipulation states that with respect to any elections after May 21, the parties jointly propose that the court modifies its order to provide that “any motion to further continue or modify the Preliminary Injunction to cover elections after May 21, 2013 will be decided by the trial judge apart from and prior to a final decision on the merits of the permanent injunction, but will be based on the full record of this Action as of the close of evidence in the trial currently scheduled to begin on July 15, 2013.”

Back in October, Simpson ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in granting a preliminary injunction preventing the controversial law’s implementation from taking effect prior to the presidential election.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other civil rights attorneys had filed suit last year on behalf of a class of plaintiffs who claimed the law, which requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, would unfairly discriminate against a certain segment of the voting population.

While the merits of the case have not yet been decided, Simpson did determine that voters would likely have been disenfranchised had the law been able to move forward prior to last year’s general election.

The judge had said it appeared likely that some people would not have been able to obtain photo ID cards in time to vote.

Simpson’s earlier ruling meant poll workers were able to ask for ID back in November, but there was no legal requirement to show it.

That same situation would apply this spring if Simpson OK’s the stipulation.

Last month, Simpson set July 15 as the day the parties will argue for and against the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction in the case.

The stipulation was signed by Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick S. Cawley, of the Civil Litigation Section of the Attorney General’s Office, Witold J. Walczak of the ACLU of Pa., Jennifer R. Clarke of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Marian K. Schneider of the Advancement Project and Michael Rubin of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Arnold & Porter.

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