[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania [official website] heard oral arguments on Thursday to determine whether Pennsylvania’s voter ID law [HB 943 materials] is constitutional. On its first day in session, the high court heard oral arguments [AP report] to decide if the state’s newly enacted voter ID law will take effect for the upcoming presidential election and whether this law threatens the right to vote. The law requires that all voters present a state issued or federal government issued photo ID when they vote. Those who do not have a valid photo ID can cast a ballot, which will be counted provided that they furnish a valid photo ID within six days. The case reached Pennsylvania’s high court after an appeal [Bloomberg report] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] from the lower court’s ruling allowing the voter ID law to stand [JURIST report]. The ACLU along with 10 citizen plaintiffs brought this case against Governor Tom Corbett who signed the voter ID bill into law [JURIST report] in March. Lawyers in the case expect the court to rule by the end of September.
There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, but the issue remains controversial. Last month a three-judge panel in the US District Court for the District of Columbia unanimously rejected a Texas law [JURIST report] requiring voters to present photo ID to election officials before casting their ballots. In May the ACLU of Minnesota filed a petition [JURIST report] sought to eliminate a proposed ballot initiative that would amend the Minnesota Constitution to require citizens to present photo identification in order to vote.