Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, PA - A court date has been set for Tues., Sept. 25, when a Commonwealth Court judge will hear from witnesses who say they've had trouble getting a new, state-issued form of identification to be used for voting only. The move comes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told Judge Robert Simpson this week that the law must be put on hold if there's any question about voters getting these new ID cards.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania, says the ruling shifts the burden of proof in the case.
"We don't have to go in and demonstrate that our folks are not going to be able to vote. The Commonwealth has to come in and demonstrate that all voters are going to have voter ID, or valid ID, on Election Day."
Plaintiffs' attorney David Gersch argued the case before the high court, and says time remains a crucial factor.
"The Commonwealth is going to have trouble, no matter what. It's a very high standard that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed - and correctly so, given how few days are remaining before the election."
Walczak believes the ruling pressures the Commonwealth Court to recognize that the situation is too unstable with so much at stake.
"The court cannot now just rely on government officials' assurances. That's not enough."
Those in favor of the Voter ID law say it will protect integrity at the polls.
The ACLU and other groups also are asking Judge Simpson to issue a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the law without an evidentiary hearing. The groups claim the state can't possibly assure that some eligible residents won't be disenfranchised by the law on Election Day.