The law was passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature before the
Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley said the ID requirement violated state voting law and the state constitution.
"The voter ID law as written suggests a legislative disconnect from reality," McGinley said.
However, he ruled against the
Because the ruling is based on Pennsylvania law, it may have limited effect on voter ID laws pushed through by Republicans in other states.
Friday's ruling comes after more than 18 months of litigation, including three trials and a state Supreme Court preliminary injunction preventing the new requirements from going into effect.
Pennsylvania officials acknowledged that the tighter requirements meant that as many as 750,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania did not have an acceptable identification and could face the loss of their voting rights.
"Today, the Commonwealth Court issued a permanent injunction to the implementation of the voter identification law passed by the General Assembly in 2012," said James D. Schultz, General Counsel to GOP Gov.
ACLU lawyer Witold Walczak called the ruling a "devastating indictment of the Pennsylvania voter ID law."
The civil rights group challenged the law on behalf of several elderly, disabled and homeless people who could not easily get to state driver's license facilities.
"Requiring electors who lack [a driver's license or passport] to get to a [driver's license office] that may or may not be in their county, and may be several miles away and unreachable by public transport, is untenable," ruled McGinley, who is a Democrat.
McGinley cited "overwhelming evidence" that hundreds of thousands of qualified voters lack the needed identification, and he criticized the state's educational and marketing efforts as "largely ineffective and consistently confusing."
He said there was no evidence of fraud that would justify such a law in the first place.