HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett on Thursday said he was abandoning his fight to keep intact the state's two-year-old voter identification law.
"The Commonwealth will not pursue an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the Commonwealth Court's decision to enjoin Act 18's photo identification mandate," the governor said in a statement. "Based upon the [lower] court's opinion, it is clear that the requirement of photo identification is constitutionally permissible. However, the court also made clear that in order for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications."
The decision not to seek a Supreme Court review came weeks after Judge Bernard L. McGinley upheld his earlier finding that the law was unconstitutional. McGinley said the law requiring Pennsylvania voters to produce photo ID at the polls failed "to provide liberal access to compliant photo ID" and, as a result, disenfranchised voters.
"The evidence showed the voter ID provisions at issue deprive numerous electors of their fundamental right to vote, so vital to our democracy," wrote McGinley, who struck down the law in January.
The administration had spent about $6 million in state and federal funds to educate voters about the law and $1 million in state funds to the Philadelphia law firm Drinker Biddle to help defend it.
Gov. Corbett signed the voter ID bill-considered among the strictest in the nation - in March 2012 after protracted legislative debate and public protests along partisan lines.
Republicans said showing an ID would reduce voter fraud, while Democrats contended the limited types of valid ID would bar access to the polls, particularly among minorities, the elderly, students, and low-income voters.
The law has been on hold because of the litigation. Poll workers were allowed to ask for but not demand ID for voting.
Both sides agreed that the law would not be enforced during 2014 elections.