By punting the ball, the state Supreme Court virtually has guaranteed that the battles over the state's voter identification law will continue possibly until Election Day.
On Tuesday, the state's top court booted the matter back to the Commonwealth Court, with instructions that it must by Oct. 2 again review implementation of the law, specifically concerning the availability of Pennsylvanians to get free photo ID cards from PennDOT that can be used as proof for voting.
If the lower court determines there is not liberal access to the ID cards under the procedures in place or if the court is concerned that voters will be disenfranchised by the law, then it is ordered to issue a preliminary injunction stopping the voter ID requirement for the Nov. 6 election.
The Supreme Court has promised to expedite any further appeals, which seem almost a given, especially if the Commonwealth Court determines the voter ID requirement can stand.
As the law currently stands, Pennsylvanians going to the polls on Nov. 6 must present a valid photo ID to prove their identity, such as a driver's license or a nondriver photo ID card issued by PennDOT. Certain other photo IDs also will be acceptable if they meet certain criteria.
Those without a proper ID will be issued a provisional ballot. They then will have to provide a copy of their photo identification and a signed affirmation, which will be given to them at their polling place, to their county board of elections within six days or their ballot will not be counted.
Because of the continued uncertainty, it behooves registered voters to act now to ensure they will have a photo ID, if needed, by Nov. 6. Acting earlier also might avoid longer lines closer to Election Day.
With neither side showing signs of surrender, the conflict over the voter ID requirement is certain to continue.
But if voters act now to get their IDs, regardless of which side comes out of top, they will be prepared to cast their ballots on Nov. 6.