Monday, April 28, 2008

Indiana Voter Identification Law Upheld by Supreme Court

In 2005, the Indiana State legislature passed a law requiring voters to identify themselves with a photo ID. To anyone who’s been a poll-watcher, that’s a no-brainer. During a hotly contested presidential election a while back, I saw several people who were caught trying to vote in different polling locations. You’d think they’d be embarrassed (if not arrested) but they’d loudly proclaim that an injustice had been perpetrated upon them. They shouted at the poll workers and tried to intimidate us—and the security guard would have to be called to shoo them away.

So the Indiana voter photo ID law has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The law "is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'" wrote Justice Stevens in an opinion conjoined with that of Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Kennedy. Justice Alito, Scalia, and Thomas agreed, too, but wrote separate opinions. Dissenting were Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter.

The counter argument is that the law discourages elderly, poor, and minority voters. There may be a small element of truth in this where it applies to the elderly (who don’t drive) but the “poor” and “minority” voters do manage to drive or have driver’s licenses. Perhaps the municipalities should assist those groups in getting photo IDs, as no doubt they will, because our elections tend to be close and voter fraud occurs at a higher rate than one would suspect in spite of the “checks and balances” of the 2-party system.

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