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Pa. Voter ID Law Faces Legal Challenge

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ten regular voters say Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law will prevent them from voting in this November’s election and they estimate as many as 80,000 to 800,000 Pennsylvanians do not have acceptable photo IDs to vote.

That’s the crux of a 53-page lawsuit filed in Commonwealth Court by citizens and three organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the Homeless Advocacy Project.

The petitioners say there is just no evidence of fraud so, they argue, the state has no compelling reason to deny legitimate voters the right to vote.

Calling it a “phantom” argument, ACLU attorney Vic Walczak said, “You would think if you’re passing a law like this that there would have been some scandal involving a conspiracy, a large prosecution of a ring involved in in-person voter fraud. But, in fact, there is nothing like that.”

For many non-drivers to get a photo ID, Pennsylvania requires a birth certificate — certificates that some states do not have for older Americans born decades ago and who have rarely missed an election.

“People who can vote, who are legally entitled to vote, are going to be blocked from voting under this law. And that’s why we are bringing this lawsuit — to have that law declared unconstitutional,” said David Gersch, an attorney from the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold & Porter.

And, lawyers, say, requiring people to pay cash for a voter ID violates the state Constitution that all elections are “free and equal.”

“This is an extremely important right,” noted Walczak. “Our clients are not going to give up without a fight and with this formidable legal team, we’re ready to rumble and we’ll see you in court.”

Three of the 10 petitioners are from the Pittsburgh area: an 84-year-old suburban white woman who never drove and for whom Pennsylvania says it has no birth certificate even though she was born here; a 75-year-old black woman from the city who had to pay for a voter ID card; and a transgendered man, once a woman, who says he will be denied the right to vote because all his certificates and photo ID’s are of a woman.

The petitioners are being represented by the ACLU, the Public Interest Law Center, and Arnold & Porter.

Attorneys have asked the Commonwealth Court to expedite its process and hold a hearing on this case in mid-June.

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