Supreme Court upholds voter ID law

From the Associated Press via MSNBC (4/28/08)

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

The Supreme Court ruled that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to prevent fraud.

It was the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush. But the voter ID ruling lacked the conservative-liberal split that marked the 2000 case.

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'” Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy. Stevens was a dissenter in Bush v. Gore in 2000.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also agreed with the outcome, but wrote separately.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented, just as they did in 2000.

‘Extremely disappointed’ More than 20 states require some form of identification at the polls. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, but struck down Missouri’s. Monday’s decision comes a week before Indiana’s presidential primary.

The decision also could spur efforts to pass similar laws in other states.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said he hadn’t reviewed the decision, but he was “extremely disappointed” by it. Falk has said voter ID laws inhibit voting, and a person’s right to vote “is the most important right.” The ACLU brought the case on behalf of Indiana voters.

The case concerned a state law, passed in 2005, that was backed by Republicans as a way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the law as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats.

There is little history in Indiana of either in-person voter fraud — of the sort the law was designed to thwart — or voters being inconvenienced by the law’s requirements. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver license serves as the identification.

Burden ‘eminently reasonable’ “We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” Stevens said.

Stevens’ opinion suggests that the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.

But in dissent, Souter said Indiana’s voter ID law “threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state’s citizens.”

Scalia, favoring a broader ruling in defense of voter ID laws, said, “The universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not ‘even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.'”

Stevens said the partisan divide in Indiana, as well as elsewhere, was noteworthy. But he said that preventing fraud and inspiring voter confidence were legitimate goals of the law, regardless of who backed or opposed it.

Indiana provides IDs free of charge to the poor and allows voters who lack photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and then show up within 10 days at their county courthouse to produce identification or otherwise attest to their identity.

Stevens said these provisions also help reduce the burden on people who lack driver licenses.

Kasey’s Note:  If the Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws in 2008, I am  amazed that the Justice Department would try to block South Carolina’s Voter ID law.  Shouldn’t they be going after the REAL issues – like Fast and Furious, Black Panther Intimidation, Medicare Fraud, Illegal Immigration, Obama’s eligibility, etc.?!?  I also wonder why more states aren’t requiring voter IDs……maybe to help Obama win?

Morning Bell: Voter ID Prevents Election Fraud

By Mike Brownfield

 

Last night’s nail-biter in Iowa marked the beginning of election year 2012. And with Americans heading to the polls — next in New Hampshire, then South Carolina and beyond — they will hope to rely on the integrity of the election system to ensure that every legitimate vote counts and that fraud is not the deciding factor on the local, state or national level.

Unfortunately, despite all the technological advances in our modern democracy, voter fraud still occurs, and yet there is still resistance to one very simple tool that could help eradicate it — voter ID. Some, like The New York Times, say that voting fraud is a myth, that “there is almost no voting fraud in America.” But as Heritage senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky explains, voter fraud is all too common in America today:

The fraud denialists also must have missed the recent news coverage of the double voters in North Carolina and the fraudster in Tunica County, Miss. — a member of the NAACP’s local executive committee — who was sentenced in April to five years in prison for voting in the names of ten voters, including four who were deceased.

And the story of the former deputy chief of staff for Washington mayor Vincent Gray, who was forced to resign after news broke that she had voted illegally in the District of Columbia even though she was a Maryland resident. Perhaps they would like a copy of an order from a federal immigration court in Florida on a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. in April 2004 and promptly registered and voted in the November election.

Even former liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens agrees. Stevens wrote in a 6-3 majority opinion upholding an Indiana voter ID law: “That flagrant examples of [voter] fraud…have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists…demonstrate[s] that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”

Given the incidence of voter fraud — and the simplicity of requiring voters to present a valid ID in order to be able to vote — it’s not surprising that 70 percent of likely U.S. voters believe that voters “should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to cast their ballot,” according to a recent Rasmussen poll. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of Americans are opposed to the requirement.

Despite the fraud — and the support for voter ID measures — Attorney General Eric Holder intends to examine new state voter ID laws for potential racial bias. Von Spakovsky writes that the allegations of bias are baseless, and there is evidence to prove it. In Georgia, which enacted a photo ID law before the 2008 election, the number of African American voters increased after the new law went into effect. “According to Census Bureau surveys,” von Spakovsky writes, “65 percent of the black voting-age population voted in the 2008 election, compared with only 54.4 percent in 2004, an increase of more than ten percentage points.”

On top of all that, the number of people who don’t already have a photo ID is incredibly small. An American University survey in Maryland, Indiana, and Mississippi found that less than one-half of 1 percent of registered voters lacked a government-issued ID, and a 2006 survey of more than 36,000 voters found that only “23 people in the entire sample–less than one-tenth of one percent of reported voters” were unable to vote because of an ID requirement. What about those who don’t have photo IDs? Von Spakovsky notes that “every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that the very small percentage of individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one.”

The American people value the integrity of their elections, and they overwhelmingly support voter ID requirements to make sure that Election Day is as fair, honest, and legal as possible. Still, though, there is resistance and predictions of massive  disenfranchisement if voter ID laws continue to be implemented. The  evidence, however, proves otherwise.