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Governor disappointed in voter ID law ruling

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Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 8:09 p.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett said on Saturday that he is disappointed with a judge's ruling that struck down a controversial state law requiring voters to show identification before casting a ballot.

Corbett, who signed the 2012 law, said he has not decided whether to appeal Friday's ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley.

“I would say I'm disappointed, but we have to take a detailed review of the opinion first,” Corbett said after giving a speech to more than 350 members of the Pennsylvania American Legion in Moon.

The governor was the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Pennsylvania American Legion Housing for Homeless Veterans Corp., a nonprofit group.

Corbett said he will announce soon whether he will direct the Attorney General's Office to appeal.

“We have to take a look at the opinion,” he said. “We'll let you know next week.”

McGinley's sweeping 103-page opinion labeled the law “unconstitutional on its face.”

Corbett, a Shaler Republican, had defended it as necessary to prevent voter fraud.

McGinley, a Pittsburgh Democrat, issued the ruling after presiding over a 12-day trial last summer prompted by a challenge to the law from a coalition of civil liberties groups, including the state chapter of the NAACP, the Public Interest Law Firm of Philadelphia and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The voter ID law failed to provide a safety net for hundreds of thousands of registered voters who lack proper government IDs and might be deterred from voting because of the inconvenience of obtaining one, McGinley said,

Democrats and civil liberties groups had long opposed the law, claiming it was an attempt to suppress voter turnout among groups likely to support Democrats. Republicans, who control the Pennsylvania General Assembly, said the law is necessary to root out voter fraud.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928.

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