Pennsylvania voters, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, appeared before the state this morning, challenging the new state voter ID laws that threaten to disenfranchise 1 million of the 8.3 million registered voters in the state. The hearing comes one day after the plaintiffs, joined by activists and demonstrators, protested the law outside the state capitol.
“They know that, when people don’t vote, they win. … We’re going to stop it and stand at the borders of Pennsylvania and say ‘everybody in America has a right to vote.'” – Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale
— Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) July 25, 2012
Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth Carol Aichele defends the law, arguing that it is “valid and will sustain any kind of test.”
Civil rights activists, voters, and organizations have historically hounded states for citing voter fraud as a defense of voter ID laws. Which is why Pennsylvania will abandon that argument in today’s hearings. According to NPR, the state has never investigated voter fraud claims, thus will not argue for past fraud. Both sides agree that there is no evidence of in-person fraud. Instead, the state will argue, much like Indiana in 2008, that the state has a “valid interest” in preventing future fraud.
Aichele continues to defend the law by outlining steps her department will take to make acquiring identification cards more accessible for voters. On top of these steps, she also cites an “intensive voter-education effort” as a means for preventing disenfranchisement.
The hearing will continue into next week, with a decision coming as early as August 13, says Judge Robert Simpson.