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The state of Indiana has the most restrictive voter I.D. law in the country. Show up at the polls without a currently valid, government-issued photo I.D., and you can't vote. I realize that to many Americans, that doesn't sound like much of a burden. And for many Americans, it isn't.

But it is a very substantial burden for many groups of eligible voters, including the elderly who don't drive, college students, and the poor who don't own cars. There's a great deal of overlap between those who are unduly burdened by this law and Democratic voting constituencies. It's probably no coincidence, then, that support for Indiana’s restrictive law came from Republicans in the state legislature.

Indeed, the law is a "solution" looking for a problem, since Indiana has been unable to identify a single case of in-person voter fraud occurring in its history. In fact, studies have shown that widespread, in-person voter fraud simply does not exist, whereas many eligible voters do in fact lack the I.D. that laws such as this require.

No matter. Yesterday, by a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Indiana law. The Court that should be the staunchest defender of American democracy has enabled a state, without substantial justification, to erect barriers to voting. As we approach a presidential election with the possibility of a record voter turnout, the last thing our democracy needs is more roadblocks to voting.  

There’s a small ray of hope, however, as the Court left the door open to future challenges to the Indiana law and to voter I.D. laws in other states. In the meantime, yesterday’s ruling once again underscores how important the Supreme Court is to the rights of every American, including that most fundamental of rights – the right to vote.    

Judith E. Schaeffer
Legal Director
People For the American Way

Originally posted to Judith Schaeffer on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 07:43 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Corrrect me if I am wrong, (0+ / 0-)

    but you could show up without an I.D. and get a provisional ballot.  Then you had to show some real I.D. in ten days.

    What is wrong with that?

    •  Well, for starters . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nyy26wc, corvo

      let's say you are an inner city minority - who has neither automobile nor drivers license, but you can WALK to your local polling place.

      Or, say you're elderly and you no longer drive and your polling place happens to be the nursing home you're in - or you're nursing home has a shuttle bus that takes you to the polling place.  You have your social security card, but that's not a photo ID.  So now - according to Antonin Get Over It Scalia, you have to have a photo ID to vote.

      Notice that both of these classes of voters tend to vote Democratic, and you may begin to peerceive the agenda behind this non-issue. It's just another form of poll tax . . . which was outlawed by civil rights legislation in the 60's.

      "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by bobdevo on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 08:00:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is to stop (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        someone from voting in 10 districts?

        Please don't tell me that this doesn't happen or that there is no evidence for it happening.

        Tell me what is to stop it from happening.

        •  Are you completely unaware that precincts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nyy26wc

          have a list of eligible voters for that locale. You just don't saunter in and vote.  You give your name.  If your name is on the list of registered voters, then adn only then you may vote.  FOR THAT PRECINCT. And you sign your name next to the name on the list.

          There is NO credible evidence of wide-sporead voter fraud.  If there is - plese link to it - if you can.

          There is, hoever, ample evidence of wide-spread voter suppressiion by Republicans.

          "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

          by bobdevo on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 08:18:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  okay, what is to stop (0+ / 0-)

            a person from registering by mail in 10 districts?
            Under ten different names?

            I fully believe that Republicans do this to suppress votes.

            And I just as fully believe that Democrats want easy voting rules so that they can pack it with people who will vote their way.  Whether they could legally vote or not.

            Both sides are being disingenuous.

            •  Ah, Jesus, get a clue . . . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nyy26wc

              in that case, what is to stop a person from getting 10 fucking phony picture ID's?  If someone is clever and has resources and is bound and determined to go to that much trouble to vote more than once --- there's nothing anyone can do about it.

              The fact is, it isn't done because it would be WAY TOO MUCH TROUBLE.

              Again -- please link to any CREDIBLE vote fraud that hinges upon a lack of photo I.D.

              "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

              by bobdevo on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 08:27:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Registration is linked to a physical address. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bobdevo, Han Valen

              Physical addresses are located in a single district. You can't register a PO box.

              Plus, the Secretary of State's office approves all voter registration applications.

              I think most Democrats would rather people vote legally- they know that the majority of people tend to vote Democratic, so the more legitimate voters, the more votes for the Democratic party. When votes are supressed, it usually favors Republicans.

              "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by EsnRedshirt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 08:30:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the trick is that the (0+ / 0-)

                voter rolls rarely get purged.  

                I think that Justice Stevens remembers his old Chicago days.  I don't have any idea how valid it is to generalize it to the whole country, but Chicago Democratic corruption is going to bite the national Democratic party in the ass as a result of past sins.

                •  Last big purge of voter rolls was in FL... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobdevo, Han Valen

                  if I recall- and it made headlines because the job was handed out to a private company who purged a ton of people who shouldn't have been purged. And the primary racial demographic of those wrongly purged voters? African-American (who tend to vote Democratic.)

                  "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

                  by EsnRedshirt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 09:12:03 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Standard voter roll sheets. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobdevo

          At least in CA, when you show up at a polling place, you sign your name on the voter roll sheet in the space beside your pre-printed name and address. Election officials can then match your signature to the one they have on record. You don't vote outside your district.

          May not work that way in Indiana, but it works fine in California.

          "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

          by EsnRedshirt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 08:18:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what is to stop one person from coming (0+ / 0-)

            early in the morning, and voting in place of someone who is a legitimate voter?

            Do they really match signatures?  I have never seen that.

            •  You tell them your name before you sign. (0+ / 0-)

              They find it on the sheet, and point you where to sign. In theory, you could obtain a list of legitimate voter names and vote in their place, but you run the risk of getting caught by giving the name of someone who's already voted or who's voted by mail.

              So, yes- it's possible, but people just don't do it. It's too much hassle, and a single vote has an almost insignificant impact- the standard rate of error expected in an election is higher than the effect of fraudelent voting.

              There'd have to be a large, organized voter fraud "ring" to have a noticible effect on an election- and the Department of Justice has been looking for something like that for years, but hasn't found it. They would have, too- an effective effort would have too many people in on it, and it would just take one person going public to bring the whole thing down.

              On the other hand, disenfranchising legitimate voters by requiring a photo ID does have a noticable effect on an election.

              "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

              by EsnRedshirt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 03:00:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  SCOTUS would just as soon do the selection (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    for President, n'est ce pas??
    It worked out so fucking great in 2000.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 07:56:00 AM PDT

  •  While we're at it, (0+ / 0-)

    let's make a note of who wrote the "majority" opinion, shall we?

  •  The US has been trumpeting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyy26wc

    democracy and the right to vote since the Revolution yet the government has simultaneously done more to destroy democracy and make the act of voting a confusing, challenging and often impossible task to accomplish.

  •  I see this decision as the court shifting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyy26wc

    the burden of proof.  The states no longer have to prove significant voter fraud, but the voters now have to prove a significant hindrance.

    From the commentary I heard, many of the justices saw no compelling evidence that requiring ID has caused significant hardship on voters or prevented significant people from voting.

    The matter is not closed.  If such evidence begins to arise, the decision will be revisited (likely by a flood of lawsuits...)

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