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November 1, 2013

Voter ID law on hold until judge makes decision

NEW CASTLE — Before you vote in Tuesday’s general election, here is what you need to know.

Poll workers will ask for a photo identification, but it will not be necessary for voters to produce one in order to vote Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania Legislature passed a voter identification law in 2012, but in August, a Commonwealth Court judge barred enforcement until he makes a final determination in a case challenging the legislation.

Judge Bernard McGinley further ruled that poll workers may ask voters for a photo ID, but they are not allowed to tell voters that such identification will be required at future elections.

In his order, McGinley stated, “There is no value in inaccurate information, and the court does not deem inaccurate information ‘educational.’ It is not a matter of confusion — it is a matter of accuracy. This court and election officials have a duty to provide correct information at the polls to qualified electors who exercise their vested right to vote.

“Regardless of whether a request for photo ID causes confusion, telling a qualified elector that he or she will not have the right to vote in future elections if he or she does not obtain compliant photo ID, when that information has been erroneous at best, deceptive at worst, will not be continued. Not when this court has witnessed two prior injunctions where the information, in effect, misled qualified electors.”

Lawrence County elections director Ed Allison said local poll workers have been instructed about the court ruling.

The judge’s order does not affect existing law, which requires voters who are voting for the first time in a polling place to present some form of identification.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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