Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson refused to grant an injunction that would have stopped a new Pennsylvania voter ID law from going into effect today. Simpson's decision will most likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The law will require anyone voting in Pennsylvania to show specific government issued photo IDs. Pennsylvania's Secretary of State estimates that 758,000 registered voters lack the proper ID.
Elderly women, members of minority populations, college students, Pennsylvanians with disabilities, and transgender individuals have all testified in the case against the new law, claiming it would disenfranchise them. In his ruling, Judge Simpson wrote that those seeking the injunction blocking enforcement of the law did not show that "disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable," reported NBC.
Four of the six state Supreme Court justices would need to vote against the voter ID law for it to be overturned. Currently the court is split evenly with three Republicans and three Democrats. The seventh judge, Republican Justice Joan Orie Melvin, has been suspended while she faces criminal corruption charges, reports the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, Republican Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turazi claimed that the new law would "allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania" in the November election. Opponents of the law have cited that the state does not have any evidence to suggest that voter fraud has occurred or will occur in Pennsylvania elections to justify a voter ID law. The US Department of Justice is also looking into the law due to evidence suggesting the law discriminates against minority groups.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .