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Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Sent Back to Lower Court for Review

Pennsylvania’s highest court today ordered a lower court judge to review whether a recently enacted voter identification law disenfranchises voters.

The 4-2 decision by the state Supreme Court puts the fate of the statute in the hands of Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who denied a group’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the law from taking effect in August.

Simpson has until Oct. 2 to determine whether the state is making an effort to get identification in the hands of those voters who need it.

The law is one of several ballot-access measures being challenged around the country. Signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in March to prevent fraud, it requires voters to show a photo ID issued by the federal government, the commonwealth, a municipal employer, an institute of higher education or a care facility.

Pennsylvania estimates that at least 80,000 voters would have to get a new form of identification before Election Day.

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old grandmother, sued, arguing that as an elderly citizen who had never had a driver’s license, the new law would be a burden on her and other co-plaintiffs who had trouble obtaining their birth certificates and other required documentation. The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the NAACP and the Homeless Advocacy Project signed on to represent similarly situated individuals.