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Trial Begins On Pa.’s Photo ID Law

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A woman votes in Florida (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

A woman votes in Florida (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Jon Delano Jon Delano
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Inside the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg, lawyers argued the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s controversial voter photo ID law.

Critics say the state constitution lays out the requirements for voting and voting ID is not one of them.

“What can the state legitimately add on top of that in terms of having identification without pushing so far, making it so difficult to get, that you’re really adding another requirement that doesn’t appear anywhere in this constitution,” noted Ken Gormley, Dean of the Duquesne Law School.

The law passed without a single Democratic vote, signed by a Republican governor, and touted as a way to help Republican Mitt Romney.

“Voter ID — which will allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done,” House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a McCandless Republican, told GOP leaders after the bill’s passage.

In court, lawyers for the League of Women Voters and the NAACP argued that the ID law is designed to keep the poor, the elderly and minorities from voting in Pennsylvania.

But the Corbett administration says it has streamlined the process to get a photo ID — just give your name, address, last four digits of your social security number, your signature that you are who you are, and a photo ID valid for ten years will be issued.

While the Corbett administration has made it easier to get one of these photo IDs, critics say you still have to show up at one of these PennDOT driver license centers, and they say a number of counties don’t have them, and their hours are erratic at best and hard to get to by public transportation.

But the state says that’s not a big deal.

“Simply the idea that there may be a slight inconvenience — that you may have to go someplace to get an ID — is not a barrier to voting, is not preventing anyone from being able to vote,” said Nils Fredericksen, a spokesman for the Office of General Counsel.

That, of course, is exactly what the court will decide.

Judge Bernard McGinley has set aside nine days to take evidence on who — if anybody — is disenfranchised by this photo ID law.

Once he makes a decision, you can be sure it will be appealed to first the Commonwealth Court and then the state Supreme Court.

Right now, the law has been suspended for elections here — meaning you do not need a photo ID to cast a ballot.

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