Voter ID: Applewhite v. Commonwealth


Governor Declines to Appeal Loss in PA Voter ID Lawsuit

Governor Tom Corbett announced on May 8, 2014 that the state will not appeal a Commonwealth Court judge’s ruling that prohibits enforcement of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law.

Governor Corbett issued the following statement regarding his decision:

“The Commonwealth will not pursue an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the Commonwealth Court’s decision to enjoin Act 18’s photo identification mandate.  Based upon the court’s opinion, it is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible. However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications.

“A photo identification requirement is a sensible and reasonable measure for the Commonwealth to reassure the public that everyone who votes is registered and eligible to cast a ballot.

“The Administration will work with the General Assembly to address these issues.  However, through the current legislative term, we must remain focused on passing a balanced budget and addressing ongoing legislative priorities.”

Jennifer Clarke, the Law Center’s executive director, issued this statement following the announcement: “The state’s decision not to appeal makes it very clear that with the exception of first-time voters, poll workers simply may not ask people for identification. Period. There is no waiting around for a new decision, no new roll out, and no question that people can now cast their votes. This law is dead.”

On May 1, 2012, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to overturn the voter ID law passed by the General Assembly in March 2012.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley issued an order on January 17, 2014, permanently blocking the controversial photo identification law. In his opinion, Judge McGinley stated that the voter ID law “does not pass constitutional muster because there is no legal, non-burdensome provision of a compliant photo ID to all qualified electors.” He reaffirmed his opinion on April 28 when he denied the commonwealth’s motion to reconsider his earlier ruling.