Voter ID: Applewhite v. Commonwealth

This law could have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of citizens, including individuals who cannot travel to Pa. Department of Transportation (PennDOT) centers because of work, limited mobility or limited resources; senior citizens whose records have been lost or destroyed over the years; veterans whose military ID cards are inadequate under the new law; and others with disabilities or limited assets for whom the law’s requirements would be unacceptably difficult to meet.

Through that trial we successfully secured a preliminary injunction of the law through the November 2012 and the May 2013 primaries. Governor Tom Corbett announced on May 8, 2014 that the state would not appeal the Commonwealth Court judge’s ruling that prohibits enforcement of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. 

Our clients in this case have included people like Viviette Applewhite, a 92-year-old African American woman who worked as a welder during World War II and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil rights movement. Ms. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election since at least 1960, but she would have been unable to obtain identification that complied with the new law in time for the 2012 Presidential Election. Other plaintiffs include voter advocacy organizations such as the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the Homeless Advocacy Project.

Case Progress

May 2014
Governor Declines to Appeal Loss in PA Voter ID Lawsuit

April 2014
Judge Denies State’s Post-trial Motion

January 2014
Voter ID Case Inches Toward Pennsylvania Supreme Court

January 2014
Judge Rules Voter ID Law Unconstitutional

August 16, 2013
Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law will not be Enforced while Trial Judge Deliberates

August 13, 2013
Petitioners Request Preliminary Injunction Extend through Appeal

July 2013
Trial on Permanent Injunction begins

June 2013
Pretrial Conference Held in Preparation for Trial on Permanent Injunction

April 2013
Court Grants Plaintiffs’ Request and Orders Release of Data

February 2013
Preliminary Injunction Extended through May 21, 2013 Elections

February 2013
Trial on Permanent Injunction Scheduled for July 15, 2013

October 2012
Supplemental Injunction Requested to Stop Commonwealth from Misleading Voters about ID Requirements

September 2012
Partial Preliminary Injunction Granted; No Disenfranchisement on November 6th!

September 2012
Second Commonwealth Court Hearing

September 2012
Supreme Court Send Voter ID Case Back to Commonwealth Court

August 2012
Notice of Appeal Filed

August 2012
Preliminary Injunction Denied, but Fight Continues

July 2012
Voter ID Law Debated over Seven Days of Trial

July 2012
Lawyers Issue Response to Commonwealth’s New Voter ID Plan

July 2012
Petitioners File Pre-Trial Brief for Motion for Preliminary Injunction

July 2012
Voter ID Law Disproportionately Burdens Puerto Rican Voters

July 2012
The Truth Continues to Emerge about Pennsylvania’s Photo ID Law

May 2012
Judge Denies Motion to Intervene

May 2012
Lawsuit challenging the Voter ID law filed

March 2012
Voter Id law signed by Gov. Tom Corbett