A Commonwealth Court judge today said a trial on the constitutionality of the state's new voter ID law will likely be held in this coming summer.
Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. said he wanted to give the two sides enough time to prepare for the trial, while also anticipating that whatever he decides, the case will once again get kicked to the state Supreme Court.
The summer of 2013 fits that timetable, Simpson said, although he noted that he will have to likely hold a hearing before then to decide how to handle the May 2013 primary - and whether he should extend his partial injunction on the voter ID law to cover that election.
In early October, with just weeks to the presidential election, Simpson had agreed to temporarily block the law from going into effect - but the injunction only covered the presidential election. Simpson left the law intact, and so it will apply to elections going forward.
The ACLU and other attorneys for plaintiffs in the case said they will push for the injunction to be extended. Attorneys for the state would not definitively say whether they will fight against it.
One thing is clear: Simpson said he wants to render his final decision on the law's constitutionality by August of next year. Because his decision is likely to be appealed either way, he said he wants to give the high court several months before the November 2013 election to weigh in with its decision.
The ACLU and its partners have argued the law will disenfranchise voters, particularly the young, the old and the poor. They contend many voters cannot meet the requirements to obtain a photo ID. The law requires voters to show specific types of photo identification at the polls.
Proponents of the law counter that voter ID will ensure elections are fair and cut down on voter fraud. They have been unable, however, to provide specific examples of voter impersonation at the the polls.
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