Monday, 06 August 2012 08:57
Good morning. A Commonwealth Court judge is due to rule next week on the legal challenge to the state's strict voter ID law. Until then . . .
The P-G's Nikita Lalwani writes that state-issued letters to those possibly facing ID issues are confusing many recipients, even those like Oakmont Democratic party official Paula Calabrese who are well versed in politics:
"I thought it was just a notice sent to everyone saying, 'Don't forget, you need voter ID,' " she said of the letter, which lists valid IDs under the law and explains how to acquire a free PennDOT photo ID. "There was nothing in it to make me think I might be inaccurately registered. And there was nothing that said what I should do next."
The Inquirer does a roundup on challenges to voter ID laws in other states:
In Wisconsin, two judges recently issued injunctions against that state's voter ID law, saying it presented real hurdles to casting a ballot.
Missouri's state Supreme Court struck down the photo ID requirement there. Now the state has a weaker ID law that allows voters to submit utility bills, bank statements, and other documents as identification, without a photo.
Court outcomes have swung so widely that legal experts are wary of predicting how Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson will rule later this month on a challenge to the state's new voter ID law. Simpson heard seven days of testimony that wrapped up Thursday.
"There are both factual and legal differences" from laws and court challenges in other states, said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and author of The Voting Wars, which chronicles the fight over election laws starting with the battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000.
The Pennsylvania case has generated suspense, he added.
"Pennsylvania is the only potential swing state that I'm aware of where the question of whether voter ID laws will be in place is uncertain this close to the election," he said.
In other news the notoriously prickly Pittsburgh City Council looks to be facing some contentious issues when it gets back from its month-long vacation recess, including whether (as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl wishes) the city should get out from under state fiscal oversight. From Joe Smydo:
Citing debt reduction and other financial improvements, Mr. Ravenstahl contends that the city has made enough financial progress to go its own way but hasn't publicly proposed a timetable for doing so.
"We're pleased that council members are working with Mayor Ravenstahl to emerge from state oversight," mayoral spokeswoman Marissa Doyle said in an email last week, adding that Pittsburgh "has rebounded from the brink of bankruptcy to a city with a vibrant and diverse economy, growing for the first time in decades."