A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Friday that the state's restrictive voting policy, which requires nearly all of the state's 8.2 million eligible voters to show photo I.D. before submitting a ballot, is illegal, paving the way for an appeal to the state's Supreme Court. 

Democratic Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley writes in a 103-page ruling that "Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal, adding that the rights of "hundreds of thousands" of voters were under a "substantial threat." 

The controversial voter ID law passed in 2012 during a wave of restrictive tightening of voting laws, despite massive pushback from Democrats who claimed it really attempt to suppress voting among minority groups that tend to vote in their favor. The Associated Press reports

Republicans called it an election-security measure, but administration officials acknowledged that they knew of no examples of voter impersonation. The legislation was approved during the presidential election campaign at a time other GOP-led states also were tightening their voting requirements.

Court orders blocked the law from being enforced until constitutional concerns are resolved. Today's ruling, which finds the law to be, in fact, unconstitutional, is a step towards revoking it completely. ACLU lawyer Witold J. Walczak said "the act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter suppression tool." The civil rights group led the legal charge against the the voting act.