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Judge blocks Pennsylvania from using voter ID law in November election

| Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 5:51 p.m.

HARRISBURG — A state judge on Friday barred enforcement of Pennsylvania's strict voter identification law in the Nov. 5 general election.

The state also cannot require local election officials to tell voters at the polls that photo IDs could be required in future elections, but officials can distribute written material about the law, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said.

McGinley's ruling marked the third consecutive election in which enforcement of the law has been blocked.

The constitutionality of the law is being challenged and was the subject of a 12-day trial before McGinley that ended this month.

Lawyers for the state have said the enforcement issue should be considered one election at a time — as has been the practice since the court's first order was issued just weeks before the 2012 presidential election. Enforcement was blocked in the May primary election, too.

The plaintiffs objected to any provision allowing the state to require local election officials to ask but not require voters to show photo IDs and to hand out information about the law to those who did not show identification.

The voter ID law would be one of the strictest in the nation, but it has never been implemented.

After legal jousting that reached the state Supreme Court, a judge blocked enforcement in last year's presidential election and again in this year's municipal and judicial primary because of lingering concern that it could disenfranchise voters who lacked a valid photo ID.

The 2012 law was approved without any Democratic votes by the Legislature's Republican majority and signed by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett amid a bitterly contested White House race in which Democratic President Obama carried Pennsylvania.

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