Voting rights advocates are focused on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as it considers whether to uphold the state’s controversial new voter ID law, a decision that could have far-reaching effects for the November elections and beyond.
The six-member panel of justices began hearing testimony on Sept. 13 in an appeal following a lower court’s refusal to rescind the law.
In an oft-repeated refrain, Pennsylvania Republicans have touted the measure as a defense against potential voter fraud. But Democrats and civil rights groups have contended that the law is an attempt to limit the voting power of minorities, the poor and the young—voters who are most likely to vote for President Obama.
That assertion was supported when the state's House GOP leader Mike Turzai told a group of fellow Republicans in June that the measure would "allow (former Massachusetts) Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the State of Pennsylvania."
With its 20 electoral votes, the state will play a key role in determining the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, making the state high court’s decision a critical one. And there are implications beyond November, said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
“When you disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in this state – Pennsylvania, (which) often determines who becomes president – then you create a constitutional crisis, because you are then not just stealing the race in Pennsylvania, you're stealing the race in the country,” he said in a CNN story.
“You're fixing who's on the Supreme Court and you're setting the destination for civil rights for an entire generation."
With election day less than two months away, a ruling by the justices is expected this month.