Jul 28, 2014
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POLL: Newtown Reacts to Pa. Voter ID Decision [Updated]

Local politicos give their reaction to Patch. Will this decision stick? Both sides had said they would appeal this ruling.

POLL: Newtown Reacts to Pa. Voter ID Decision [Updated]

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson upheld Pennsylvania’s , but that’s not the end of the story.

At the conclusion of the hearing, both sides said they would appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court if they lost. In this case, the loser is American Civil Liberties Union legal director Vic Walczak.

He told The Washington Post that the case isn't over. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”

Do you agree with the verdict? Leave a comment.

The ACLU and the NAACP claim voter ID laws disenfranchises voters, especially the elderly, the poor and minorities.

Proponents of voter ID laws, including State Senator Daryl Metcalfe (R-12th District) who introduced the Pennsylvania bill, say the law is meant to prevent voter fraud.

From the start, this issue has split Republicans and Democrats, and if it goes to the State Supreme Court, it could get the same reception. The Court has only six members now: three Republicans and three Democrats. The seventh Justice, Joan Orie Melvin, was suspended earlier this year on corruption charges. She is a Republican.

Wes Oliver, associate professor of law with Duquesne University School of Law, told PA Independent that in the case of a stalemate, the lower court’s decision sticks.

Here's what Newtown Area Republican Comittee member Paul Salvatore said about the ruling:

"Until the federal government comes up with a national database for voter registration, states need to be allowed to protect the integrity of the voting booth. There's nothing that stops someone from voting in Pennsylvania and also being registered to vote in another state and vote there, this can be done with absentee ballots.

“The integrity of each and every valid vote was upheld today. As the court said, the requirements of Act 18 will be implemented in a non-partisan, even-handed manner by Commonwealth agencies, and qualified voters will have their votes counted."

The top Republican in the state House of Representatives, Mike Turzai, released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

“The many election reforms enacted, including voter ID, are aimed to ensure citizens and registered voters have the right to vote and have their vote counted. It’s about one person, one vote, and each instance of fraud dilutes legitimate votes.

“It is unfortunate, but there has been a history of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

“The elections in the Commonwealth will be on a more level playing field thanks to voter ID and other recent election reforms.”

Former Democratic Newtown Borough Council member Mike Sellers gave us his take on Wednesday's ruling:

"The voter ID law was always a solution in search of a problem.  I had corresponded with our State Senator while this legislation was pending, and asked for the statistical evidence of voter fraud in the past driving this effort. I never received it. With all the pressing issues facing the people of Pennsylvania,  much  money and time was spent to address a problem that could not be proven to exist.  And millions more dollars are  still needed to implement the “ID requirement.” As with many  things in politics, the motivation behind the new law can be found by who will gain or lose.  The ID requirement was shown at the trial  in Commonwealth Court to unfairly disenfranchise those in lower income groups, minorities, and the elderly, among others. Coincidentally, these are primarily democratic leaning groups when it comes to elections. The benefit from turning away voters on election day will go to the Republicans who want to  skew the odds in favor of their party in a presidential election year. One of the top republican legislators stated that very intention was behind the new law.  But hope remains that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will yet stop this injustice."

Marilyn Smith-Scarpa left the following comment on our Facebook page:

"Just like Republicans to try and steal an election. There is no meaningful evidence of voter fraud yet this must be done before a presidential election? They don't even know what 'unintended' consequences might arise. Obviously they don't care either!"

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors chairman Mike Gallagher gave this reaction:

"Regardless of political affiliation, I think it's important to make sure that everyone has the ability to vote. While I understand the need for the Commonwealth to validate the result of each election, my focus has been on making sure that Newtown residents aren't turned away on November 6th. I spoke with the Board of Elections in April and reached out to every Judge of Elections in Newtown Township, asking them to get me names of people that may need assistance in acquiring the necessary identification for November. After speaking to a few Judges after the election, it was clear that Newtown residents were often knowledgeable about the new requirement, and those that didn't know the law had no problem providing ID.   

"My hope is that there are no obstructions to voting in Newtown this November. With a high expected turnout, any attempt to make a statement about this legislation will only serve to make the voting process more difficult for the average voter."

Post will be updated as more reaction from locals is received.


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