Judge halts Pennsylvania's tough new voter ID requirement

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A judge is postponing Pennsylvania's tough new voter identification requirement, ordering that it not be enforced in the presidential election.

Tuesday's ruling comes just five weeks before the election. An appeal is possible. The six-month-old law requires each voter to show a valid photo ID.

Democrats and groups including the AARP and NAACP mounted a furious opposition to a law Republicans say is necessary to prevent election fraud. Critics have accused Republicans of using old-fashioned Jim Crow tactics to steal the White House and have highlighted stories of registered voters struggling to get a state photo ID.

The law was already a partisan lightning rod when a top Republican lawmaker boasted that it would allow GOP nominee Mitt Romney to beat Democratic President Barack Obama in Pennsylvania.

Why don't people have identification? See the story here.

Indiana's voter ID law was challenged and went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2008, which voted 6-3 to support it.

Here are the major provisions of Judge Robert Simpson's 16-page ruling on Pennsylvania's voter ID law:

 - Voters won't need photo ID:

Simpson issued an injunction against provisions of the law that would keep people from voting if they don't have photo identification. Those voters will not be required to follow an alternative procedure in which they would vote by a provisional ballot and then prove their identity to county election officials within six days of the election. Instead, they will vote the same as others.

- The ruling only extends to the coming election:

The legal challenge to the law will continue before Simpson, with a status conference set for Dec. 13 in Harrisburg.

- The judge said the law could disenfranchise some voters:

Simpson said that with five weeks to go before the election, some people who would need photo IDs to vote might not get them in time.

- Voter education about photo id will continue:

Opponents sought a ban on outreach and educational efforts regarding the need for photo ID. Simpson denied that request.

- Election officials may still ask for ID at the polls:

As occurred in the spring primary, voters can be asked for photo ID, but if they don't have one, they won't be kept from voting.

- What's at stake:

Supporters of the law framed it as a means to prevent voter fraud, and a key state House Republican lawmaker predicted it would be critical to helping presidential candidate Mitt Romney win the state. Opponents said it would result in qualified voters being unable to cast ballots that are counted.

See the ruling

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