SCRANTON, August 15, 2012 – – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today expressed disappointment and concern over a Commonwealth Court ruling that denied a temporary injunction on Pennsylvania’s partisan-driven Voter ID law.
“Since the Voter ID bill was first proposed by state Republican leaders, I have been skeptical of the bill’s motives and deeply concerned for the hundreds of thousands of eligible voters who could be turned away from the polls in our critically important national election in November,” Blake said. “A democracy works best when there is maximum voter participation. Unfortunately, this law serves to suppress the vote for partisan advantage. Any questions about its motives were utterly dispelled in the recent public commentary of House Republican Leader Mike Turzai.”
Blake noted that a recent report by the Pennsylvania Department of State estimated that 758,000 registered voters – more than 40,000 in the three counties that comprise the 22nd Senatorial District – do not have photo identification cards from the state Department of Transportation. A significant number of these voters are senior citizens that do not drive.
“It is time for the Commonwealth to aggressively follow through on its plan to provide a free and valid ID to anyone lacking the proper identification to vote,” Blake added. “Even though many of us are dissatisfied by today’s court ruling, we must take the proper steps to ensure that all voters – regardless of party affiliation – can properly participate in the November election.”
In the court case, the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned for an injunction to halt the implementation of the Voter ID law. The ACLU argued that the state had made it too onerous for residents to obtain the proper identification required to vote under the law. Judge Robert E. Simpson ruled against the ACLU, stating that it did not, among other things, inflict greater injury in refusing to grant the injunction than in granting it.
The ACLU plans to appeal the Court ruling within the week.
“I have the utmost respect for our judicial process and I am hopeful that, upon appeal, the state Supreme Court will rule in favor of voter participation and not voter suppression,” Blake added. “While we await a final ruling on Voter ID, it is crucial for everyone to understand the provisions of the law and how to ensure you are able to exercise your right to vote in November.”
Senator Blake, State Rep. Ed Staback (D-Lackawanna/Wayne) and other local officials will host a free informational seminar on the new Voter ID law on Tuesday, August 21 at 6 p.m. at Valley View High School in Archbald. All residents with questions about the new law are encouraged to attend.
# # #