A Pennsylvania judge on Friday struck down the state’s controversial law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.
Judge Bernard L. McGinley called the law an unreasonable barrier to voting, siding with Democrats who have decried the measure as a patent political ploy by Republicans to disenfranchise minority voters in the swing state.
“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal,” McGinley said in his ruling. Noting that the law doesn’t include measures to allow photo identification to be easily obtained, McGinley added: “As a constitutional prerequisite, any voter ID law must contain a mechanism for ensuring liberal access to compliant photo IDs so that the requirement… does not disenfranchise valid voters.”
Philadelphia’s law has been in place for almost two years, but enforcement of it has been blocked by previous court rulings. The administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, which enacted the law in 2012, had not yet commented as of early Friday afternoon, but has previously said it would appeal a ruling against it to the state Supreme Court.
It was one of the strictest of a swath of voter ID laws pushed by Republican-controlled statehouses across the U.S. in recent years, over the fierce objections of Democrats. Mike Turzai, the Republican majority leader of the state House, attracted criticism from Democrats in 2012 when he hailed the law as a measure that would “allow” Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania. Romney ultimately lost the state.