2012-05-24 / Local & State

Group Seeks To Intervene In Pa. Voter ID Challenge

By Peter Jackson

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A bipartisan group of voters who support Pennsylvania's tough new voter ID law is seeking to join the court battle over the statute, saying their rights would be violated if the law designed to combat fraud is not in place on Election Day.

The mostly Republican voters, who include one GOP state legislator who is seeking re-election, have filed a petition to intervene in opposition to a constitutional challenge of the law filed in state Commonwealth Court on behalf of 10 other voters earlier this month.

The plaintiffs in the original lawsuit “allege that they are challenging the Voter Identification Law to protect their fundamental right to vote,” the petition says. “Intervenors seek to participate in this litigation to protect that same right.”

Pennsylvania is among a growing number of Republicancontrolled states that has toughened their voting requirements in recent years. The law that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed in March is considered one of the toughest in the nation.

Starting with the Nov. 6 general election, voters must show a Pennsylvania driver's license or certain other forms of photo ID before their ballots will be counted. A voter who lacks an acceptable ID may cast a provisional ballot, but it won't be counted unless the voter provides identification to county election officials within six calendar days of the election.

Legal advocates for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have asked the court to expedite hearings on a preliminary injunction they are seeking to block enforcement of the law in this year's election.

“In case folks haven't noticed, it's a presidential election year,” and protracted legal skirmishing over election rules will cause headaches for county officials and confusion for voters confronting the requirement for the first time, Witold J. Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said Tuesday.

Proponents of the law have said it is needed to combat voter fraud and is broad enough to allow anyone who needs a photo ID to get one. Critics point to the absence of any case involving people trying to impersonate voters and have presented realexamples of people unable to obtain proper IDs.

The ACLU is one of several groups providing legal services for the 10 plaintiffs, who include three women who say they cannot obtain proper ID because they have been told by their birth states that there are no records of their births.

Kathleen Jones Goldman, the lead lawyer for the voters' group seeking to intervene in the case did not return a voice mail left at her office or an email seeking comment.

Goldman and a Washington lawyer working with her on the case are listed as members of the Republican National Lawyers Association, a Washingtonbased organization whose website says it is devoted to advancing GOP ideals and “open, fair and honest elections.”

Walczak said plaintiffs will argue in a motion to be filed Wednesday that the intervenors would only duplicate arguments that the Corbett administration is expected to make in defending the law.

“They want to help the state prevent registered voters without ID from voting, which will really undermine the integrity of the election,” Walczak said.

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