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Appellate court blocks Pennsylvania voter ID law for November 5 election

By Dave Warner

Philadelphia (Reuters) - An appellate court on Friday ruled that Pennsylvania will once again be prohibited from enforcing its controversial voter identification law at the polls in November.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley issued an injunction that prohibits use of the law at the general election on November 5 and also stops poll workers from telling voters they may have to produce identification in future elections, according to the court's website.

The November election will be the third election in which the law was blocked from being used since the measure was passed in March 2012, by a Republican-led legislature.

Supporters have said the law is aimed at ensuring that only those legally eligible to vote cast ballots. Critics have said it is designed to keep minority voters, who typically vote Democratic, away from the polls. Similar debates have stoked controversy in other states.

In his ruling, Judge McGinley said the information that poll workers conveyed to voters in earlier elections about required identification was not accurate.

"It is the intent of this preliminary injunction to enjoin verbally informing electors about the necessity of proofs of identification for future elections," McGinley wrote.

The ruling was cheered by advocates for voters who fought the measure in court.

"We are very pleased that hundreds of thousands of eligible voters will be able to cast ballots in upcoming elections regardless of whether or not they have required identification," said Jennifer Clarke of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

Supporters of the law, including Republican state House majority leader Mike Turzai, were not immediately available for comment.

The state of Pennsylvania has acknowledged there has never been a case of in-person voter fraud, according to court testimony.

On Monday North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls.

(Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

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