Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) had hoped to stop thousands of his eligible constituents from voting this year without an ID.
When Republican policymakers at the state level decided to create harsh, new voting restrictions this year, the approval process was pretty easy: GOP lawmakers worked with GOP governors and passed measures like voter-ID laws.
What Republicans didn't count on were the problems they'd face in the courts.
A judge postponed Pennsylvania's controversial voter identification requirement on Tuesday, ordering the state not to enforce it in this year's presidential election but allowing it to go into full effect next year.
The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
However, Simpson based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election. One lawyer for the plaintiffs said it appeared to be a "win."
If the ruling stands, it's a significant setback in the Republican drive to stack the election deck.
Logistical concerns appeared to play a key role in the outcome. With just five weeks until Election Day, Pennsylvania wasn't in a position to process the paperwork for hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, hadn't fully trained elections officials, and was left with a chaotic system full of confused statewide clerks, all unsure how to implement one of the harshest voter-suppression laws in the nation (created to address a problem that doesn't exist).
Judge Simpson specifically said this morning that revised procedures, hurriedly put together by state officials "will reveal unforeseen problems which impede implementation." He added, "I am not still convinced in my predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement for the purposes of the upcoming election."
Some of the relevant details, including the role of provisional ballots, are still coming together, but at first blush, it appears that the ruling is an important win for voting-rights advocates and a major setback for the GOP.
The entire ruling is online here (pdf).
Update: Rick Hasen explains the significance of the judge enjoining only part of the law: "The state may still ask for id. But it must accept a ballot even if the voter fails to have id. It will not be necessary to cast a provisional ballot. This may cause confusion at the polls, as the state will still have poll workers ask for id, even though a voter can vote without it."