Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the next stop for the state's voter I.D. law after a state judge refused to block it, and plaintiffs' attorneys vowed to continue their fight.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania had filed suit, claiming the law would make it disproportionately harder for seniors, minorities and others to get the identification documents they'd need to vote in the November election.
Reggie Shuford, state ACLU executive director, cites 93-year-old plaintiff Viviette Applewhite as a case in point. Applewhite's married name on her Social Security card can't be matched with the name on her birth certificate, says Shuford.
"She's tried repeatedly to get the necessary background information that will entitle her to vote come Election Day, and she's been unsuccessful."
Attorney Jennifer Clarke, executive director, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, says the State Supreme Court is the logical next venue to take their argument.
"We will be appealing this decision. We'll ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to treat it on an expedited basis."
Zach Stalberg is president of the nonprofit Committee of 70, an election watchdog group in Philadelphia. He says several hundred thousand Pennsylvania voters face a genuine risk of losing the right to vote.
"A lot of people take this for granted, but for many people, finding a birth certificate with a raised seal or finding a Social Security card - and I have no idea where mine is - this is not an easy task."
The new law requires would-be voters to show proof of identification and residency. Supporters say it would combat voter fraud, although none has been reported in the state. The judge who made the ruling says the plaintiffs failed to show that the disenfranchisement of voters would be 'immediate or inevitable.'