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Judge denies Commonwealth's motion in voter ID case

A Commonwealth Court judge on Monday denied the Corbett administation's motion to reconsider his January ruling overturning the two-year-old voter identification law.

A Commonwealth Court judge on Monday denied the Corbett administration's motion to reconsider his ruling overturning the state's two-year-old voter identification law.

In his 29-page decision, Judge Bernard L. McGinley said the law requiring voters to produce photo ID at the polls failed "to provide liberal access to compliant photo ID" and as a result voters were disenfranchised.

"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 Corbett administation has 30 days to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Joshua Maus, spokesman for the governor's Office of General Counsel, said he had no comment beyond that the office was reviewing the ruling.

Lawyers representing plaintiffs, who said the law was overly burdensome and violated their constitutional rights, praised the ruling.

"The Court confirmed that the photo ID law is unnecessary and disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of people," said Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. "We call on the Governor, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to stop spending our precious state dollars on defending this law, so dangerous to our democratic system. "

The administration has spent about $6 million in state and federal funds for voter education 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 legislation - considered among the strictest in the nation - in March 2012 after protracted legislative debate and public protests along partisan lines. Republicans contended that showing ID would reduce voter fraud, while Democrats said the limited types of valid ID would in effect bar access to the polls, particularly among minorities, the elderly, students and low-income voters.

As the litigation stretched out over multiple election cycles, the law has been on hold. Poll workers were allowed to ask for but not demand ID for voting.

Both sides had agreed that the law would not be enforced during the 2014 primary and general election.

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