Pennsylvania's highest court is returning the state's controversial voter ID law to a lower court judge who must decide whether it will disenfranchise some voters.

NPR's Jeff Brady reports that according to Tuesday's ruling, the lower court judge must block the law from taking effect if he finds voters cannot easily get photo ID cards that the law requires.

The state Supreme Court recognized difficulties in implementing the law under a "relatively short time frame," concluding:

"Given this state of affairs, we are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials, even though we have no doubt they are proceeding in good faith."

Democrats says they believe the law is designed to help Republicans in November's election by reducing turnout among poor and minority voters.

The co-counsel for the plaintiffs called it a "big step in the right direction."

"The reports from Pennsylvania already include long lines at the PennDOT offices, confusion and untrained workers giving out misinformation," Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis said. "We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate widespread disenfranchisement."

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party says the law will ultimately stand. Pennsylvania state court Judge Robert Simpson, who was ordered to review the law, previously upheld it.

"The Supreme Court's decision simply asks the Commonwealth Court to reaffirm its original ruling — and we are confident that the Court will do so," Pennsylvania's GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said. "We strongly believe that the Court will find that this law does not — and will not — disenfranchise voters in the state."

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