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Lawyers’ Committee Praises Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s Ruling Blocking ID Requirements as Partial Victory

October 2, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 02, 2012

 

Election Protection's Toll-Free Hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) Remains 
Available to Assist Voters With Any Questions or Problems

Washington, D.C., October 2, 2012 - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is pleased with today's ruling by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson blocking Act 18, which was signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in March requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot.  Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson reversed his original ruling and temporarily blocked parts of the state's photo voter identification law. The effect of the ruling is that for November, election officials will request ID from voters. However, if a voter does not have ID, he or she will still be able to cast a regular ballot - and not be required to vote using a provisional ballot.

"Judge Simpson's temporary injunction against the photo ID law is a step in the right direction to ensure that all eligible voters in Pennsylvania are able to participate in our democracy,"injunction against provisions of the law that would keep people from voting if they don't have photo identificationinjunction against provisions of the law that would keep people from voting if they don't have photo identification said Lawyers' Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine.  "While today's ruling is a victory for voters, it heightens the need for Election Protection."

Election Protection, the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, remains available and is, in fact, intensifying efforts to ensure that all voters in Pennsylvania are educated about their rights.

The Election Protection Hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) has been answering questions from Pennsylvania voters with questions about the photo ID law since the law was passed.  The hotline is answered live by highly-trained volunteers.  It provides hands-on assistance to voters with questions about ID requirements and other voting questions.  Voters may call toll-free with any questions or issues that may arise from now through Election Day. Spanish-speaking voters may also seek assistance through the 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) hotline. On Election Day, Election Protection and its coalition partners will also place volunteers at precincts in Allegheny, Dauphin, and Philadelphia County to provide hands-on assistance at the polls and ensure voters are not turned away at the polls for not presenting an ID.

"We don't want voters, election officials, or poll workers to be confused about this new ruling, added Ms. Arnwine.  "Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote."

Reminders for Pennsylvania Voters:

  • On Election Day, photo identification will be requested but NOT required. Poll workers will ask voters for ID, but voters will still be allowed to cast a regular ballot even if they do not have one.
  • Please contact us at 1-866-OUR-VOTE if a poll worker tells you to vote a provisional ballot because of lack of photo identification.
  • The law is only enjoined for the November General Election. Because voters will be required to show photo identification in future elections, voters should still take steps to obtain acceptable ID. To obtain a free Pennsylvania Department of State Voter ID card, an individual needs to visit a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver License Center and complete the Oath/Affirmation Voter ID form.

Election Protection's toll-free hotlines, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for English and 1-888-VE-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) for Spanish, are available to any voter who needs information, assistance, or guidance in understanding their rights.  It is open to the entire voting public, but targets historically disenfranchised communities, including African Americans, Asian Pacific American, Latinos, Native Americans, and other racially and ethnically diverse communities (seniors, young people, low-income voters, and individuals with disabilities). 

Election Protection's nationwide, nonpartisan voter protection program had its largest program in the coalition's history in 2008.  Over 10,000 legal volunteers fanned out across the nation to assist voters, poll workers and election officials in 25 states; the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline received over 240,000 calls from voters seeking assistance; and the www.866OurVote.org website was visited by more than 283,000 people in the final six weeks leading up to the election.  Click here to read Election Protection's 2010 report. 

For more information about Election Protection and the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit:www.866OurVote.org.

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Media Note:  Voting Rights experts and Election Protection spokespersons are available for media interviews.  Please contact Stacie Royster.