On August 15, 2012, following a six-day hearing at the end of July, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania rejected a challenge under Pennsylvania’s constitution to the state’s new voter identification law. In a column handicapping the voter ID litigation before the hearing, I observed that the debate over voter ID laws makes fascinating legal and political theater. The battle over Pennsylvania’s voter ID law certainly has not disappointed its audience so far. Here are some of the highlights, inside and outside of the courtroom.
Support and opposition to voter ID laws generally break down along party lines. With the exception of Rhode Island, voter ID laws passed in recent years have been passed by Republican-controlled legislatures, for the expressed purpose of combating voter fraud and enhancing public confidence in the integrity of elections. Meanwhile, these laws are generally opposed by Democrats, who argue that in-person voter fraud doesn’t exist, and the voter ID laws are merely a Republican plot to suppress the vote of Democratic-leaning minority and disadvantaged voters.
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