Two additional amicus briefs were filed in support of the challenge to the Photo ID Law:
AFL-CIO: The AFL-CIO’s amicus brief mirrors the Petitioners’ general legal arguments, but contains some interesting nuances. Specifically:
(a) The Commonwealth appears to be putting most of its eggs into the “Crawford basket.” In other words, the Commonwealth is arguing that it need not provide evidence that in-person voter impersonation fraud actually happens because the United States Supreme Court, in Crawford, held that such evidence was not necessary to prove that photo ID laws serve a legitimate purpose. Presumably in response to that argument, the AFL-CIO relies heavily on Commonwealth v. Edmunds. In Edmunds, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that, in a case such as this one, where the Pennsylvania courts are asked to interpret only provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the courts are not bound by the decisions of the United States Supreme Court but rather must conduct an independent analysis of the Pennsylvania constitutional issues. In short, the AFL-CIO is arguing that the Court should simply ignore the Crawford case. The AFL-CIO then, for good measure, also distinguishes Crawford (footnote 8).
(b) The AFL-CIO discusses in detail the cases in which courts in Missouri and Wisconsin struck down photo ID laws in those states, and explains the similarities between those cases and this case.
(c) The AFL-CIO also puts the Photo ID Law in historical perspective by discussing the history of Pennsylvania’s Constitution and noting that the Commonwealth was a trailblazer in expanding the right to vote to all citizens, thereby making the government responsive to the popular will. It then concludes:
“Now the General Assembly has taken the abhorrent step of enacting a statute which attempts to reverse over two hundred years of Pennsylvania political and constitutional history and whose effect and purpose is to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. The notion that a Legislature, created through the sovereign will of the people by the adoption of a state constitution, could turn around and diminish the people’s right to vote is preposterous. It assumes that a Legislature may destroy the very thing that made its existence possible, and that it may amend the state constitution by mere statute.
It is this rich tradition of popular sovereignty in our Commonwealth that should guide this Court to the conclusion that the Pennsylvania Constitution does not permit what the Legislature with the Governor’s signature sought to achieve.”
SeniorLAW Center: The SeniorLAW Center, along with the AARP and several other groups that serve the interests of older voters also filed an amicus brief in support of Petitioners’ challenge to the Photo ID Law. The brief provides statistics indicating that the Photo ID Law may disproportionally burden elderly voters because they lack photo ID at higher rates than other segments of the population and are the least capable of traveling to get one. Noting that there are more than 9,000 polling places in Pennsylvania but only 71 Drivers License Centers, the SeniorLAW Center concludes that “each trip to the Drivers License Center will be drastically more of a burden than the trip to the polling place because of the limited number and less accessibility of the Driver License Centers.”
The SeniorLAW Center also suggests that the Commonwealth’s proposed new voter ID card may not be a workable solution for many elderly voters. According the Commonwealth, while voters will not need to show a birth certificate to obtain one of the new voter ID cards, they still will have to provide two documents proving residence. The SeniorLAW Center notes, though, that:
“[A]pproximately 188,700 Pennsylvanians 65 years or older live in a household in which they are not the owner or tenant of the household and are not married to the owner or tenant. This population will not have a mortgage or lease to present as documentation of their residency. Likely for the same reason, they will not have utility bills in their name. Although a W-2 would be acceptable in lieu of a mortgage, lease or utility bill, 84.3% of Pennsylvanian 65 years or older are out of the labor force.”