Opponents of Pennsylvania's new voter identification law won a critical battle Tuesday as a state judge blocked enforcement of the measure in this fall's elections.
But don't think the war concerning voter IDs is over, even if the Corbett administration decides not to appeal the temporary injunction. The same fight is likely to emerge in 2013 as opponents once again try to block the law.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled Tuesday that because of concerns about the ability for voters to get a usable ID before Nov. 6, the state cannot require one before people cast ballots next month. Election workers will be able to ask people for a photo ID, but if someone doesn't have one, that person still will be able to vote as normally.
The voter ID law had said that those without valid IDs would have to cast provisional ballots and then provide the county board of elections with identification within six days of the election for their ballots to be counted. If Simpson's injunction stands, that won't be necessary.
Simpson said based on the state Supreme Court's guidelines and reports of Pennsylvanians having trouble getting IDs at PennDOT licensing centers, he could not be assured, despite statements from state officials, that no voters would be disenfranchised by the law on Nov. 6.
There is no doubt that state officials stumbled early in creating and issuing voting-only photo identifications for people who did not possess all of the required paperwork for a standard nondriving state-issued photo ID, which can be used more broadly, such as for opening bank accounts or boarding a commercial flight.
In recent weeks, the state streamlined its process for issuing voting-only photo IDs, and we suspect that had people wanted an ID and were willing to invest a little time, they could have one before Nov. 6.
The big question is what happens next spring, when Simpson has cleared the voter ID law to be implemented. Will opponents make the same argument about the difficulty of some to obtain an ID?
We expect so.
We only hope at that point the courts are less sympathetic to the sob stories.
Requiring people to present a valid photo ID before casting ballots is a reasonable move to protect the integrity of the voting system.
We're disappointing that it appears the ID law won't be in effect next month. We'd be outraged if the courts were block it after that.