Reporting Cherri Gregg
By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All eyes will be on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week as it hears arguments on the Commonwealth’s voter ID law.
Last month, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to issue an injunction that would have blocked the voter ID law, writing in his 68-page opinion that he sympathized with those impacted by the law, but did not believe requiring IDs would disenfranchise voters. Plaintiffs appealed.
In papers filed late last month, the ACLU argued on behalf of plaintiffs that the decision should be overturned because the judge ignored substantial evidence showing that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters lack proper ID. The state responded on Friday that the ruling should stand because the voter ID law is designed to protect voting rights, not to inhibit them, citing to numerous efforts to educate voters.
Since 2010, Republican-controlled legislatures passed voter IDs laws in 14 states across the country. Democratic Party leaders have called the new laws a blatant effort to suppress the vote of poor and minority Americans.
“Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote,” Georgia Congressman John Lewis told supporters at the Democratic National Convention last week.
“The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state’s new voter ID law is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state,” he said. “That’s not right! That’s not fair! That’s not just!” Lewis was a Freedom Rider during the early 1960s and was instrumental in organizing non-violent protests for voter equality.
“Hopefully it will be struck down, similar to other states that have also struck that law down,” said Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson following a voter education workshop he hosted this past weekend.
He says he attended the DNC and supporters have been charged to go home and to get to work.
“We want to make sure that we organize every neighborhood and make sure that everybody has their proper identification,” he said.
In July, the Pennsylvania Department of State estimated that 758,000 registered voters did not have one of the most common forms of ID acceptable under the Commonwealth’s voter ID law. With less than 60 days until the election, the pressure is on to get voters the ID they need for November.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the voter ID law on Thursday at 9:30 am at Philadelphia’s City Hall.
For more info on the voter ID law or on how to register, go to VotesPA.com.