A trial set to begin today on the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's voter identification law represents a major step toward a judicial ruling on whether the photo requirement should be enforced at polling places statewide or thrown out as unconstitutional.
Nine days are set aside for the trial in Harrisburg in Commonwealth Court. Civil libertarians challenging the law and state officials defending it say they expect the state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the case. At issue is a voter ID law that would be one of the strictest in the nation if it is upheld but has never been enforced.
The 2012 law was approved without any Democratic votes by the Legislature's Republican majority and signed by GOP Governor Tom Corbett amid a bitterly contested White House race in which Democratic President Barack Obama ultimately carried Pennsylvania and was re-elected.
Critics derided the law as a cynical GOP effort to discourage voting by young adults, minorities, the elderly, poor and disabled from going to the polls. Republicans said most Pennsylvanians have driver's licenses to use as photo ID and claimed that the law would discourage voter fraud.
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