Tuesday, October 02, 2012

PA voter ID law blocked, kinda, i think

AP says the PA voter ID law was blocked by the judge on remand from the supreme court. the pittsburgh post-gazette says the law was only partially blocked, with voters still being asked to show ID but permitted to vote even if they don't have one, and they won't be required to prove their identity six days later, as provided in the original law.

so what does that mean? do ID-less voters vote regularly or provisionally? and if it's provisionally, how will election officials decide whether to count to provisional ballot? and if they can vote ID-less, when why would election officials ask for ID?

the whole thing is very confusing, and the full decision for today's ruling is not clear either. the key part of the order is this:
[The Commonwealth of PA is blocked from...] Implementing or enforcing that part of Act 18 which amends Section 1210(a.2) of the Election Code, 25 P.S. §3050(a.2), and Section 1210(a.4)(5)(ii) of the Election Code, 25 P.S. §3050(a.4), for the general election of November 6, 2012. It is the intent of this Preliminary Injunction to extend the transition procedures described in Section 10(1) of Act 18 beyond September 17, 2012, and through the general election of November 6, 2012. Nothing in this Preliminary Injunction shall preclude the Commonwealth from following transition procedures described in Section 10(2) of Act 18 (relating to additional education efforts to those not showing proof of identification for in-person voting) for the general election of November 6, 2012. All other provisions of Act 18 remain in effect.
what the hell does that mean? i can't tell unless i looked up the section 1210 of the election code, and sections 10(1) and (2) of act 18 (which, i'm guessing is this year's amendment to the election code), there's no way to tell. i'm a lawyer. i'm sure if i put in the time i could figure it out. but what about the thousands of volunteers who run the polls on election day? how are they going to untangle all this before november 6th?

even if you agree with voter ID, changing the rules this soon before the election is madness. the only sensible thing is to delay implementation of all of the changes until after this election. in fact, when the voter ID law was passed people knew there would be court challenges. they should have foreseen this kind of confusion. if they really wanted a valid voter ID law that would stand on solid ground, they should have pushed the effective date back to 2014. but they couldn't do that. the entire point of the PA voter ID law is this election.

ADDING: in other words, essentially what atrios said.