The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 2, 2012

Judge halts Pennsylvania's Voter ID law



"Otherwise there is a possibility of confusion by voters and folks without ID may just stay home because they wrongly believe they need ID," said Witold J. Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. "It could create confusion among poll workers and any time you have confusion on Election Day, it's not good for democracy."

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who helped champion the law, declined comment on the ruling and said the state's lawyers were still analyzing it.

The state's Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason, said he was disappointed and stressed that the law is a "common-sense reform" that is supported in public polling across the political spectrum. In a statement, the Obama campaign said the decision means that "eligible voters can vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections in the state."

The plaintiffs included the Homeless Advocacy Project, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Simpson's ruling came after listening to two days of testimony about the state's eleventh-hour efforts to make it easier to get a valid photo ID. He also heard about long lines and ill-informed clerks at driver's license centers and identification requirements that made it hard for some registered voters to get a state-issued photo ID.

The 6-month-old law — among the nation's toughest — has sparked a divisive debate over voting rights and become a high-profile political issue in the contest between Obama, a Democrat, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes.

It was already a political lightning rod when a top state Republican lawmaker boasted to a GOP dinner in June that the ID requirement "is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."

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