Corbett will not appeal voter ID decision to state supreme court

By Jim Boyle | May 9, 2014

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has stated it will not seek an appeal to the state Supreme Court after the Commonwealth Court refused last week to revisit its striking down of the voter ID law, according to a press release.

“The Commonwealth will not pursue an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the Commonwealth Court’s decision to enjoin Act 18’s photo identification mandate," said the release. "Based upon the court’s opinion, it is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible. However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications."

The photo identification portion of the controversial voter ID law was originally determined unconstitutional by Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley in January. The statute would have only recognized certain types of photo identification and would have required those lacking an ID card to travel to one of only 71 state Department of Transportation facilities to obtain an approved form of identification.

McGinley denied the state's motion to reconsider his ruling April 29.

“In this controversy, the challenged statute omits a means of providing liberal access to compliant photo ID, as is necessary to survive constitutional attack,” McGinley wrote. “Its patent infirmities do not survive strict scrutiny.

“Here, the evidence showed the photo ID provisions at issue deprives numerous electors of their fundamental right to vote, so vital to our democracy,” he continued. “This justifies the Determination.”

Jennifer Clarke, executive director for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, issued this statement following the governor's announcement: “The state’s decision not to appeal makes it very clear that with the exception of first-time voters, poll workers simply may not ask people for identification. Period. There is no waiting around for a new decision, no new roll out, and no question that people can now cast their votes. This law is dead.”

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