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Pennsylvania judge rejects request for expedited ruling on voter ID ads

A judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] on Friday rejected [order, PDF] a request to expedite briefing on a challenge to voter ID advertisements. The plaintiffs, which include civil rights groups such as the League of Women Voters (LWV), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Homeless Advocacy Project [advocacy websites], are seeking an injunction [LWV press release] against voter ID ads that they allege are disseminating false information. The ads being challenged remind people to show their IDs when they go to vote, even though the court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] earlier this month that the new law requiring photo ID will not go into effect before the upcoming elections. The judge has already reduced the time allowed for the state to respond to six days instead of the standard 30 days. He said in his order that since the plaintiffs' request for an injunction brings up new legal issues, he "felt it was prudent to afford respondents sufficient time to contemplate" them. The state must respond by next week and then the court will make a ruling.

Voter ID laws have been a controversial issue this election year as many states have passed laws similar to Pennsylvania's. On Friday the Tennessee Court of Appeals rejected a challenge [JURIST report] to the state's voter ID law but upheld public library cards as a legitimate form of ID. Earlier this month a federal district court upheld [JURIST report] South Carolina's voter ID law but ruled that it cannot take effect until 2013. That same week, Mississippi's attorney general said that state's law will not take effect [JURIST report] before this year's elections because it must be approved by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The DOJ last month approved New Hampshire's law [JURIST report] requiring photo ID to be used in this year's election, but voters who cannot produce a photo ID will still be permitted to vote if they sign an affidavit and allow a picture to be taken of them at the poll.

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