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2012 Year in Review: Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

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(This woman got a Penndot ID card in anticipation that she would need it to vote.  File photo by Cherri Gregg)

(This woman got a Penndot ID card in anticipation that she would need it to vote. File photo by Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s controversial new voter ID law snagged national headlines for months this year, sparking protests and a major legal battle that traveled all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The law, passed in March, requires all voters to show a state-sanctioned photo ID in order to vote.   Lawmakers say its purpose is to prevent voter fraud but, when confronted, admitted that none exists in the state.

In May, voters and voting rights advocates challenged the constitutionality of the voter ID law in court, claiming it would disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters (see news story).

The lead plaintiff in the case was 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite (below), who could not get the documents necessary to get a Penndot voter ID card (see news story).

Lead plaintiff Vivette Applewhite. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Lead plaintiff Vivette Applewhite. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

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“To be able to vote,” she said.  “That’s all I want to do, is be able to vote.”

Protests erupted in June when Pennsylvania House majority leader Mike Turzai made this statement:

“Voter ID, which will allow Governor Romney to win Pennsylvania, done!” (see news story)

Commonwealth Court heard two weeks of evidence on a motion to block the law for the November election.  The court initially declined, and plaintiffs appealed, even as the Department of the Commonwealth launched a new ID card program and a multimillion-dollar voter education campaign.

“If you want to vote, then show it,” the ads said.

Meanwhile, the law’s opponents hit the streets, reaching out to voters — “block by block, house by house, door by door,” in the words of one.

The state Supreme Court ordered more hearings (see news story), and in the end the Commonwealth Court temporarily blocked the law just in time for the November 6th election (see news story).

But the law is back, and it could be a year before voters know whether the voter ID requirement is here to stay.

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