League of Women Voters Lawsuit unsuccessful in halting voter ID law

WASHINGTON, DC (August 15, 2012) - Today, in spite of strong testimony and the failure of state officials to provide any evidence of voter fraud by impersonation, the lawsuit brought by American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania in which the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania was the lead organizational plaintiff, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the state’s photo identification law passed earlier this year. The League of Women Voters is appalled by this decision. This is the first time in recent months that voting rights groups have been unsuccessful in blocking implementation of these voter suppression laws. The states that have halted voter ID laws include Texas, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

“We are disappointed that the Pennsylvania court has upheld this voter suppression law. Recently, when similar laws in other states have been reviewed by a court or the U.S. Department of Justice they have been deemed to be discriminatory, and we believe this to be the case in Pennsylvania,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

“We are dismayed with the decision of the court. The League is discouraged but undaunted. It’s a sad day for citizens when political rhetoric wins over democracy. We will continue to work to educate voters about voter identification requirements and help people get a photo ID while we await the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. All who read the testimony or were present in the courtroom were moved by the compelling stories of witnesses who shared the impact of this law on our most precious right to vote. As many as 1.2 million eligible voters could be disenfranchised in November’s election if the Supreme Court allows Judge Simpson’s ruling to stand. The erosion of one person’s right to vote impacts each of us” said Olivia Thorne, President of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

“Time and time again these laws have been found to be illegal. It is time to realize that these voter suppression laws cannot and should not be enacted in any state; they are legally and morally unjustifiable. It is time for us to move beyond the rhetoric and work to pass new laws that will ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote and will have their vote counted without any undue barriers. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake,” concluded MacNamara.

It is expected that today’s decision will be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.