The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday sent the case back to the Commonwealth Court for further review of how the state is implementing the law. The ruling vacated the lower court’s finding this summer that upheld the law.
The Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to issue a final decision by Oct. 2. A hearing will be held this month to further examine the law.
The law requires voters to present government-issued identification each time they vote. It was passed earlier this year strictly along partisan lines, and critics charge that it was a Republican ploy to keep Democrats away from the polls this November.
Groups expected to be most impacted by the law are the poor, minorities and the elderly. The LGBT community has also contended the law could impact transgender and gender non-conforming voters whose appearance may not match their ID photo.
One of the plaintiffs in the suit challenging the constitutionality of the law is a transgender Pittsburgh man.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is issuing free voter IDs for those who lack eligible identification.
In this week’s ruling, the Supreme Court ordered Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who made the initial ruling, to “make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available.”
The court went on to instruct Simpson to consider “whether the procedures being used for deployment of the cards comport with the requirement of liberal access, which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards. If they do not, or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter-identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.”
An injunction would halt the implementation of the law before the Nov. 6 election.
The court said that appeals of the October ruling will be processed on an “expedited basis” because of the election.
Supreme Court Justices Seamus McCaffrey and Debra Todd each wrote dissenting opinions, arguing that the law should be struck completely.
A voter ID information session specifically for transgender individuals will be held from 3-7 p.m. Sept. 22 at 215 S. Broad St., second floor.