Want to Vote? Identify Yourself

New_York_polling_place2.JPGThe Supreme Court has just upheld Indiana’s law requiring voters to have photo identification. The case is Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (thanks SCOTUS blog for the coverage). This area of the law is quite complicated. I suggest reading the SCOTUS coverage and Rick Hasen’s commentary. Prof. Hasen wrote an amicus supporting the challengers of the law. His introduction to the detailed post demonstrates his ability to see the result and analyze rather than rant about the decision:

Today’s much anticipated decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is a significant win for those who support stricter voter identification laws, even if they support such laws for partisan purposes. It will encourage further litigation, because it relegates challenges to laws imposing onerous burdens on a small group of voters to “as applied” challenges, but those challenges will be difficult to win. The lack of a majority opinion, moreover, injects some uncertainty into the appropriate standard for reviewing other challenges to onerous election laws. The Court’s specific split in this case will blunt charges that this is a politicized 5-4 decision — and it is significant that the Court, once again, has failed to cite to its opinion in Bush v. Gore. More on each of these points below.

So read the full post. It details some implications of the decision and the oddities of the 6-3 split in this case.

Image: A New York polling place, showing booths on the left, published in 1912

Author: E. Benjamin Andrews

Source: WikiCommons

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2 Responses

  1. A.W. says:

    i am sorry, but Hasen’s analysis lost me right at the beginning when he claimed that requiring ID would reduce our confidence in the system.

    Only a partisan hack would think it would reduce confidence in our system if we ensured against fraud.

    This is a win for democracy and honesty in government. and to liken it to a poll tax is just silly. first, the express purpose of a poll tax or a literacy test is to keep black people and poor whites from voting. the purpose of an ID requirement is to prevent fraud–to keep truly undesirable from STEALING YOUR VOTE.

    to stand against ID laws is to stand up for election fraud, plain and simple. its unamerican.

  2. Aaron says:

    Ouch. It takes some doing to include “partisan hack,” “stand up for election fraud,” and “unamerican” in a single post.

    On its face, a literacy requirement promotes a literate electorate, or at least ensures that the electorate can understand the ballot. So, in that sense, to stand against a literacy requirement is to stand for an uneducated, illiterate electorate (which nobody wants). However, the practical effect of the literacy test or poll tax was to disenfranchise a large group of individuals.

    Likewise, I think that even A.W. would agree that an onerous ID requirement could be unconstitutional if it disenfranchises a large group of people. It is not difficult to imagine an exceedingly onerous ID regime: Ie, three forms of full-body Picture ID, pre-registration of biometric data, at the expense of the voter. I dare say that such an onerous law would be constitutionally invalid.

    I’m not familiar enough with the case to determine whether Indiana’s laws disenfranchise voters. Who knows– perhaps after Indiana’s next elections we may see concrete evidence that large groups of individuals didn’t vote. Hopefully not.

    Unfortunately, today’s ruling won’t help clarify the standard of review as lower courts try to grapple with this important question.