Last Thursday marked the end of a week-long trial on the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's new voter ID law which could potentially disenfranchise 1.6 million individuals. The case, Applewhite v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was brought by 10 citizen voters, the Advancement Project, the ACLU of PA, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and Arnold & Porter LLP. The plaintiffs see the voter ID law as a violation of a voting rights provision in the Pennsylvania constitution. Judge Robert E. Simpson anticipates making a ruling next week. Regardless of the outcome, the case holds huge implications for the results of November's elections and ACLU lawyers are feeling confident that Judge Simpson will rule in favor of an injunction.
The plaintiffs' argument is that there is no real threat of voter fraud, which Pennsylvania state officials confirmed when they signed an agreement stating that there "have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”
The trial featured the voices of plaintiffs who spoke to the realities of the burdensome law. Vivette Applewhite, the 93 year-old lead plaintiff proclaimed, “It’s been like hell for me,” and “I got into this for one thing — to be able to vote, which is all I want to do. To be able to vote.”
Pennsylvania is a highly influential swing state and Judge Simpson's determination could set the precedent for a number of pending legal challenges to voter ID laws around the country. ACLU lawyers are confident in the case's overall strength. Commenting on the end of the trial, Penda Hair, the co-director of the Advancement Project confidently stated “We think this should be a slam dunk victory for plaintiffs which should result in a preliminary injunction.”
For more information on voter ID laws and the work that ColorofChange is doing to stop voter suppression, visit us at vote.colorofchange.org.