Voting Rights Groups Get a Partial Win in Pennsylvania


The battle over Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, which a top state Republican bragged would deliver the state to Mitt Romney, is over—at least for now. The ruling that came down today in Pennsylvania court partially blocks implementation of the law until after the 2012 election.

Voting rights groups are mostly relieved by this result. The Advancement Project released a statement from Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis saying “We are very glad voters will not be turned away from the polls this November if they do have an ID.”

When you take a closer look however, the decision is not a total win for voting rights groups. The ruling states that poll workers are allowed to ask voters for photo identification, but those who don’t have it will be allowed to cast regular ballots, as opposed to provisional ones. The distinction is crucial: Many provisional ballots don’t end up being counted, and in a close election, provisional ballots that are thrown up could change who wins the state. That’s a big win for voting rights advocates.

At the same time, those advocates are most likely quietly concerned that the shape of the injunction could lead to voters being disenfranchised. Poll workers might become confused about whether voters are allowed to cast regular ballots if they don’t have photo identification. Confusion about what the injunction actually says could result in provisional ballots being cast instead of regular ones, or even voters being turned away from the polls because they lack photo ID.

If you trust number-crunchers like New York Times polling guru Nate Silver, Romney doesn’t have much of a chance of contesting Pennsylvania. But unless poll workers get adequate guidance about what the injunction actually says, some Pennsylvania voters could still end up disenfranchised in November.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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