Pennsylvania Voter ID Trial Almost Concluded

KYW Newsradio reports a trial on the constitutionality of the state’s voter ID law is expected to end with closing arguments today.

But Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley’s first task Wednesday—the 11th day of the trial—is to finish a closed-door hearing on rebuttal testimony by a witness for the plaintiffs about how many voters could not obtain a valid photo ID before last year’s election.

The plaintiffs say many voters could not get the free, voting-only IDs that are supposed to be readily available for registered voters who lack other acceptable photo IDs. Lawyers for the state say it has taken steps to ensure that people who are registered to vote and sign a statement attesting that they lack an ID can get one of the special cards.

Karen Heller:

There is no voter fraud in Pennsylvania, none, zip. The commonwealth admitted as much in court during the three-week trial here challenging the state’s voter ID law.

Facing repeated legal challenges from the ACLU, NAACP, and other petitioners, the state has invested millions of dollars and thousands of lawyers’ hours trying to enact and defend the voter ID law, known as Act 18, to stop a crime that, according to expert testimony, no one commits.

Huffington Post:

Supporters portray the law as an attempt to crack down on voter impersonation fraud. But critics note that such fraud is rare. The real motive, they insist, is to erode the electoral power of minorities, low-income people and other Democratic-leaning groups that disproportionately lack state-issued ID.

Earlier this month, the chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party may have inadvertently strengthened the latter line of argument when he suggested that the controversy surrounding the law helped GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney cut into President Barack Obama’s margin of victory last November. In a widely circulated clip, Rob Gleason was asked by an interviewer for the Pennsylvania Cable Network if “all the attention drawn to voter ID affected last year’s elections.”

“Yeah, I think a little bit,” Gleason responded. “We probably had a better election. Think about this, we cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big. … He beat [2008 GOP presidential nominee John] McCain by 10 percent, he only beat Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably photo ID helped a bit in that.”