A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday ruled that state residents planning to vote in the upcoming November 6 US presidential election do not need to show valid photo identification in order to cast their ballots.
The ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson effectively blocks a hotly contested law that opponents said was too difficult for elderly and minority voters.
Simpson said a plan by state officials to make the ID cards more accessible wouldn’t be in place soon enough: “The proposed changes are to occur about five weeks before the general election, and I question whether sufficient time now remains to attain the goal of liberal access” to ID cards.
The judge’s ruling means the photo ID requirement will not be in effect for this year’s presidential election, but could be in place for future elections.
The decision follows several days of testimony about the long lines and confusing regulations that some would-be voters said they encountered.
Supporters say the law prevents election fraud, and recent polls found a majority of voters in Pennsylvania supported some form of required voter identification.
Pennsylvania is an important swing state in the US presidential election and the voter ID law has become a prominent political issue in the race between President Barack Obama and his challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Thirty states have voter ID laws in place that will require all voters to show ID at the polls in November.