Democrats applauded a ruling Tuesday morning by state Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, allowing voters to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election with or without state-approved identification. Republicans complained that the controversial Voter ID law was "common sense" and should be implemented immediately.
Simpson issued a narrow preliminary injunction for the Nov. 6 election -- and only that election -- to be a "soft run" for the new law, similar to how the April 24 primary election was conducted. Voters will be asked for identification at polling places but allowed to vote if they don't have it.
President Obama's campaign in Pennsylvania released this statement: "Today’s decision means one thing for Pennsylvanians: eligible voters can vote on Election Day, just like they have in previous elections in the state."
Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, is pleased that the Voter ID legislation will be used in future elections but unhappy about Simpson's ruling.
"I am disappointed by today’s ruling to postpone the full implementation of a commonsense reform that helps protect the sanctity of our electoral process," a statement from Gleason read. "We shouldn’t have to wait for this commonsense reform to be enacted."
Simpson on Aug. 15 rejected a request for a preliminary injunction from Voter ID opponents, saying he believed the state could avoid disenfranchising voters by providing identification. The state Supreme Court on Sept. 18 told him to take another look, giving him Tuesday as a deadline.
Simpson, in Tuesday's ruling, said he found three problems. First, the Supreme Court was unsatisfied with Simpson's "predictive judgment" that the state would not disenfranchise voters. Second, with the general election five weeks away, Simpson was unsure if there was enough time for the state to produce identification for every voter who needs it. And third, "candid admissions" from state officials showed that new procedures produce unforeseen problems.