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Statement from Senator Coons on Decision on Pennsylvania's Controversial Voter ID Law


Location: Wilmington, DE

U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, released the following statement after a Pennsylvania court found that that state's controversial voter ID law would disenfranchise eligible voters and blocked its implementation for the upcoming general election:

"In the sprint to enforce Pennsylvania's tough new voter ID law, far too many qualified, long-time voters were being denied their right to vote. This law was inspired by partisan politics, drafted by lawmakers seeking to disenfranchise a segment of the voting population overwhelmingly comprised of seniors, minorities, the poor, and the young. The law is a transparent attempt to keep these voters out of the voting booth, and I am relieved that it will not be enforced in next month's election.

"The right to vote is sacred in this country, and voter fraud must be monitored and directly addressed whenever it occurs. But the type of voter fraud that this legislation would address is extraordinarily rare and does not justify excluding hundreds of thousands of qualified voters from the polls, as this legislation would have done. Such collateral damage is simply not acceptable. If a state chooses to require that voters show identification in order to vote, it also has the obligation to make sure that each eligible voter has ready access to an ID.

"Despite my relief that enforcement of the law will be blocked, I am concerned that the order does not prevent poll workers from asking for ID anyway. This portion of the ruling could lead to unneeded confusion and create the appearance that ID is required. In the coming weeks, it is imperative that supporters of universal suffrage get the word out in Pennsylvania: If you are eligible to vote, you don't need an ID to do so in November. You are entitled to cast a regular ballot and do not need to cast a provisional ballot.

"Pennsylvania's voter ID law is a step backward on our nation's road toward equality, but because of this decision, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will not be denied their right to vote next month."

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