PHILADELPHIA - The ACLU of Pennsylvania, Advancement Project, Public Interest Center of Philadelphia, and the Washington DC law firm of Arnold & Porter filed a pretrial brief today outlining the main arguments they will be making at the upcoming hearing to overturn Pennsylvania's voter ID law. The hearing is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, July 25, in Harrisburg and is expected to last five to seven days.
The plaintiffs make the following claims in the brief:
- The commonwealth now admits that it cannot identify even a single instance in which a person voted improperly in Pennsylvania because they were able to impersonate someone else at the polling place.
- The commonwealth's new estimates of voters without acceptable ID - about three quarters of a million people -- are understated based on the commonwealth's own records and based on survey evidence gathered by petitioners, and that the actual number is that one million or more eligible voters do not have the necessary ID to vote in November.
- The commonwealth has not adequately informed the public that they need to undertake a time consuming task simply in order to vote as they have in years past. An estimated 37% of residents are not even aware of the voter ID law or believe there is no photo ID law. More importantly, the vast majority of people who do not have valid ID under the law mistakenly believe that they have acceptable ID (13.1% of total eligible voters and 11.8% of people who voted for president in 2008).
- In recent weeks the commonwealth's lawyers have urged that an entirely new form of photo ID be developed and issued by the Department of State precisely because it is too difficult to obtain the PennDOT ID that is supposed to be the primary ID used by voters. As of this writing, however, the commonwealth has not yet decided whether to issue the new form of ID and if so, how it will work. The commonwealth's internal documents state that the new card will be announced on July 24, the day before trial.
- All evidence points to the fact that the real purpose of the voter ID law is not to ensure the integrity of the electoral process but to ensure political advantage through the exclusion of qualified voters who are perceived to be supporters of the opposition.
- There are several statistically significant differences in possession rates of valid photo ID across subgroups of the population. Specifically, female eligible voters lack ID at higher rates (17.2%) than do males (11.5%). Latino eligible voters lack ID at higher rates (18.3%) than do non-Hispanic whites (14.0%). The elderly (over age 75) lack ID at higher rates (17.8%) than middle-aged residents (10.3%) and younger respondents (age 18-34) also lack at higher rates (17.9%). Eligible voters who make less than $20,000 annually are more likely to lack a valid photo ID (22%) than all other income categories, most notably those who make $80,000 or more (8.2%), and finally 18.5% of respondents who did not complete high school lack an ID compared to 8.3% among college graduates.
In addition, the testimonies of multiple experts have been filed with the court. Copies are now available online.
When: Wednesday, July 25, 2012. The hearing is expected to last 5-7 days. The first day will begin at 10 a.m.; subsequent days will start at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Courtroom 3002, Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Ave., Harrisburg
Read more information on the case, Applewhite et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., including copies of the original complaint and the pretrial brief.