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Foes agree on not enforcing ID law in Nov. 5 election

| Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Both sides in the trial over Pennsylvania's voter-identification law agree that it should not be enforced in the Nov. 5 general election, but the judge will have to settle a dispute over the details, according to court papers filed this week.

Plaintiffs seeking to overturn the 17-month-old law argue that any new court order barring enforcement of the photo ID requirement should remain in effect until the state Supreme Court resolves questions about its constitutionality.

“Nothing has changed since last fall, or is likely to change in the future, that would justify lifting the preliminary injunction before the end of this case,” the plaintiffs' legal team argued in a brief filed this week in state Commonwealth Court.

Lawyers for the state, who offered to support an extension through the upcoming municipal and judicial election when the trial ended on Thursday, 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 also was blocked in the May primary.

“The only election that is imminent is the November 2013 election,” the respondents' attorneys said in a brief filed Monday.

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 handing out information about the law to those who did not show identification.

The practice, originally billed as a “soft rollout” of the law in the April 2012 primary to acquaint voters with the new requirement, was continued in the November and May elections as the law bogged down in litigation.

Plaintiffs said the practice has confused voters and poll workers. Respondents said the prospect that voters will be required to show photo IDs in elections needs to be part of a consistent media campaign leading up to this year's election.

Judge Bernard McGinley, who presided over the 12-day trial, has said he will rule on the injunction request by Aug. 19.

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