Monday, April 28, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Indiana's Voter ID Law

In a key voting rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld by a 6-3 vote Indiana's Voter ID law. This is a major setback for efforts by the Democratic Party to make it difficult for poll workers to detect vote fraud activity at the polling place in the form of voter impersonation. Justice Stevens delivered the majority opinion for the Court. Justices Breyer, Souter and Ginsberg dissented. I'll have more analysis later.

27 comments:

picardsaf said...

When I voted in the special election the people manning the poll never asked for my Photo ID or the dozen or so people in front of me or who came in after I did that I saw.

I had to call downtown and let them know about it. When my wife went to vote several hours later they were asking and checking photo ID's

Flynn said...

Really we all knew an identification requirement would be upheld. The only question was whether Indiana's was too restrictive.

legaldiva said...

Just for clarification...there were no cited instances of voter fraud, so it wasn't an attempt by the dems to allow any type of fraud. The dissenting opinion is actually quite brilliant and truly captures the essence of what the plaintiffs were trying to get across. This law disables the elderly, handicapped, and the poor, not the criminal element. Last time I checked they weren't making a bee line to the polls anyway. While getting to the BMV may not cause much of an imposition to the average person, it is a true inconvenience for the above mentioned demographic. I guess the repubs are happy they can count on the fact that a large number of folks will be disenfranchised by default. The unfortunate reality is that it affects both parties.

Lance Rasmussen said...

It's the right decision.

But, can we do something about absentee voting? Maybe get a paper trail on those voting machines? If we really cared about election safety, this is what our elected officials would be focusing on.

True Conservative said...

A major problem with this law is the involvement of the BMV. I recently had an elderly lady come in who was born in Tennessee whose birth records were destroyed in a fire and before the state kept such records. The BMV played the typical bureacratic game of not telling her what she needed but that she just didn't have what she did need. She took them her social security paperwork that had her correct social security number and date of birth but that was not enough. They told her she needed a an offical document like a court order stating her date of birth. Now remember this lady was nearly 70 and had had an Indiana driver's license for decades. After calling the social security adminsitration and being on hold for over half an hour and then disconnected I thought I would call the state line to explain how ridiculous their rules were. Only then did the person tell me they accept the medicare card as proof of name and date of birth (actually he called it a medicaid card for people over 65). Of course, non of their literature or web site mentioned this. My hope is the fact this lady was black did not enter in to it.

picardsaf said...

If a house is listed as vacant from several years ago and it is still vacant now in the Indygov database and someone claims that address as their home address but never lived there and votes is that fraud ?

Aaron & Alaine said...

I do not believe the argument that this law is unduly burdensome on the right to vote is a particularly strong one. Because the fundamental right to vote is whats involved here, you can certainly make the argument that we ought to weigh the issue of placing burdens, impediments or any level of inconvenience on the exercise of that right very carefully. Nonetheless its a tough argument to make that asking of people to show photo ID as we do in order for them to do a whole slew of other everyday activities is so unduly burdensome as to rise to the level of a constitutional violation of the basic rights of citizens. Moreover, the solution is pretty simple which is that people should do something they ought to do in any event which is to obtain legal ID. For those of us who worry that people will be disenfranchised by this, mobilizing ourselves to make sure that the vast majority of the community is empowered with ID to cast their vote is what we should be doing. Legislatively, there is no reason that the law cannot be amended to make its provisions regarding provisional ballots and mechanisms for obtaining ID easier and more convenient.

Having said all that, lets also keep it real. This law was intended to suppress votes. It was championed by the republicans, ostensibly to prevent voter impersonation fraud, a crime which has never been committed and which as a potential corruptive influence on elections is really a fairly remote possibility. As a practical matter, you are not going to get enough people to participate in a conspiracy to affect an election by impersonating voters which would have any appreciable effect. So the republicans fought hard and we spent state dollars to defend a law that doesn't solve a real problem. That means that it was really intended for other purposes and that purpose was to suppress a class of voters who are typically expected to fall into the democratic column.

Now that the Supremes have upheld it, we can expect to see a slew of similar laws around the country that are put forward by republicans ostensibly to prevent voter impersonation, but as this is an imaginary problem, are really being passed for their effect of suppressing some voters. I will not be surprised to see other types of restrictions or requirements passed which use other types of potential vote fraud as justification. The result within a few years may be a slew of restrictions which when viewed as a whole operate to suppress a significant number of voters. This kind of rigging of democracy is quite frankly, evil. We as republicans should stand for the expansion of the franchise, not its suppression. This is the type of dubious legislative action which keeps me a reluctant republican.

Sir Hailstone said...

"This law was intended to suppress votes."

Dems can't find any examples of voters disenfranchised because of Voter ID. Except a woman registered to vote in two states.

Suppress votes from the Crown Hill precinct, yes. I prefer voters be alive and breathing, and voting ONCE.

(complaints about discrimination against the living challenged begin in 5..4..3..2...)

Indy4U2C said...

The decision was right & proper.

The frivilous claim of the Democrats that filed it resembles the college student “wet Kleenex” prank in which (as entertainment), a soggy wet tissue mass is thrown against the dorm room
wall to see if it will stick.

In the context of this much more serious matter, the Democrats are engaged in a similar exercise – throwing facts against the courthouse wall
simply to see what sticks.

NOTHING! (Except wasted litigation.)

Indy4U2C said...

-remember the Democrats listed as a party to the case a BMV employee, who had a driver's license!!!

Aaron & Alaine said...

You can cite democratic foolishness in the pursuit of the lawsuit against this law as much as you want. Their protestations didn't have particularly good arguments. In my mind, thats all very irrelevant. Voter impersonation simply isn't a real problem. It doesn't happen. Even if you assume it does happen, the likelihood of voter impersonation happening on a scale meaningful enough to actually affect the outcome of an election is vanishingly remote. The motivation for this law was the suppression of votes by groups of people presumed to vote democratic more often than not. I won't pretend that the burden arguments made by the laws opponents rise to a constitutional violation, if everybody else will just come clean that the intent of this legislation is voter suppression. It is an exercise in BS to act otherwise.

spooknp said...

Voter impersonation simply isn't a real problem. It doesn't happen. Even if you assume it does happen, the likelihood of voter impersonation happening on a scale meaningful enough to actually affect the outcome of an election is vanishingly remote.

You obviously have not been paying attention in the last few elections. We have seen many elections on different levels being affected by 10-20 votes. That is plenty of votes that if a group of three people are going around and voting under their relatives names, they could easily affect an election. I have older relatives who I know don't vote all the time, yet they are registered. Under the old system, I could have walked right in, voted, and no one would have known (note: I likely would have told my relatives, telling them I wanted to help so and so candidate. How many elderly would really care what their grandson/daughter voted?) It seems that with older folks, they either are very strong in voting every election, or may vote every so often and don't really care too much about the process. The fact that I could have done this with ease is proof enough that it happened and needed to be addressed. If the state/locals are not going to purge the entire rolls, compare the new registrations with address records, death certificates, etc., what other option is there? If an ID is that much of a burden, then maybe we should set up a system where folks have to register to vote every single year? These records would be compared with death certificates, government records on housing, etc. etc.. That might have helped the problem.

Also, since it never happened, why do we always hear reports of poll workers in certain precinct (mostly heavy Democrat) not showing ID till someone calls and complains. The law has been in effect for two years now, yet even today there was talk that during early voting downtown, IDs were not being checked. This is the type of flagrant ignoring of the law that makes it seem that maybe there was some fraud going on and still is today.

Flynn said...

Legaldiva, that's a very disingenous argument. The fact is we had no way of catching voter fraud of this type because there was no ID requirement. So trying to claim the result of not having the ID requirement as proof it wasn't needed is indeed very intellectually dishonest.

I can't believe in this day and age we're actually debating whether you should have to show your ID to vote. With the old signature system, we had no way of ensuring people were who they said they were when it came to voting. If you work the polls you find out very quickly that about 20% of the names on the list are of people who are dead or who have moved years ago. Unfortunately, Motor Voter makes it virtually impossible to eliminate those names of non-voters. So you have a huge pool of people on the voter registration lists that aren't going to cast votes (because of death, moving), a ripe situation for fraud...for people to step in and claim to be those people.

Bart Lies said...

For all the money they blew fighting the law, every so-called 'disenfranchised voter' could have been given a round-trip cab ride to any license branch in the state, or the license branch's mobile office could have visted THEM. And probably had enough money left over to serve tea and cookies to all of them.

legaldiva said...

Flynn,

I suppose the dissenting justices are intellectually dishonest as well, as they too noted the fact that there wasn't a single documented case of voter fraud. The mere fact that it could happen doesn't mean that it did happen. To make that statement is intellectually dishonest.

FYI, I have worked the polls. I realize that there some of the information is outdated. BUT, I haven't witnessed anyone voting multiple times, etc. I'm all for reform, but when it prevents people that have voted for years from voting because they cannot access the proper documentation, it's problematic.

Indy4U2C said...

Aaron & Alaine voter impersonation did happen in Center Twp. I worked the polls. I spoke to them.

Challenging someone impersonating prior to Voter ID was impossible for practical purposes.

I've seen Tony Duncan (gun strapped) walking inside the chute with Julia at a polling place that had 4 precincts during an election....and the Dems told me "she always does that" when I protested, as if my demanding the election law be followed were foreign...
On what do you base your false statement that it did not exist?

Aaron & Alaine said...

I'll stipulate that we don't have any verifiable way of determining whether or not voter impersonation has been occurring on some regular basis. I'll stipulate that it is possible to commit this type of fraud. However, there is no argument for the law's necessity based on the possibility of voter impersonation. Presidential vote mess of 2000 aside, by and large voting typically produces a clear winner the vast majority of the time and the problems we have had recently with controversial vote counting scenarios has more to do with the basic inadequacies of our voting practices and technology which in many places has not been updated.

I don't really have an argument about voter ID in terms of the burden it imposes. It does impose a burden, but not one that rises to the level of a constitutional violation. The burden argument is a poor one.

My problem with this law is that its actual intent is voter suppression, not the prevention of fraud. You don't base a law like this which affects a fundamental right of citizens based on scant anecdotal evidence of voter impersonation. The law was pushed for on a partisan basis primarily because it will have the effect of suppressing some number of votes that are presumed to fall into the democratic camp.

Arguments for prevention of fraud and the lightness of the imposed burden are fine as far as they go, but just like WMD was not the real reason for going to Iraq, fraud prevention is not the real driving rationale behind this legislation.

What will now occur, since the Supremes have blessed this backdoor approach to voter suppression is that similar legislation will be pursued by republicans across the country aimed at any variety of potential voter fraud scenarios. They won't be related to actual evidence of a serious problem, they'll pass because they sound reasonable enough. And we will look up one day only a few years hence I predict and find many places where enough such restrictions have been put in place that they have the aggregate effect of suppressing a significant portion of the vote.

As such, its rigging democracy and I find it despicable. As republicans, we have better ideas for governance. We don't have to rely on rigging democracy and when we do, then that means we are bankrupt of the democratic principles we proclaim.

Indy4U2C said...

Aaron & Alaine:

You wrongfully call Voter ID "voter suppression." Where did you get that from?

The Democrats were not able to provide a single example of a voter who did not have/could not obtain ID. This is 2008. ID is a requirement for many things. I can honestly say that I do NOT know anybody who does not have ID.

Can you please identify a single person who does not have and cannot obtain ID to vote? You can't? -I figured.

Please, Aaron & Alaine, keep the discussion in the land of reality.

Aaron & Alaine said...

@indy4u2c,

Can you provide documented evidence of widespread voter impersonation in any election in this state, the supposed rationale for this law? No, you can't and neither could the state make any such showing at the Supreme Court.

If you put in place rules which have the effect of discouraging voters from exercising the franchise or which make it more cumbersome to do so and those voters are deterred, you have suppressed their votes. Voter suppression is a loaded term, so I understand you want to react to that, but its an accurate term. The fact that someone can obtain ID doesn't mean you can't suppress their vote. Someone who has no ID on election day, gets a provisional ballot, but decides that they don't want to go through the rigamarole of going to the county clerk to do the affadavit thing because they just think its a hassle, thats a vote that has been suppressed, as they would have otherwise cast that vote.

Now you can make arguments that well, they should not vote if they don't want to do that, or if they don't want to get the ID and thats all very fine. But that is a separate issue from what the intended effect of this law is.

The law has been put in place in order to prevent voter impersonation fraud, a crime of which there is only anecdotal evidence and no evidence that when it may have occurred, that it has been of any material effect.

I'm not arguing about the issue of burdens and so forth. I don't think those arguments are strong. I'm simply saying that we need not engage in the fantasy that this bill was pushed forward on a partisan basis because there was this terrible problem that needed remedy. It was put forward because while it will indeed significantly deter voter impersonation, its primary affect will be to deter some number of voters who are presumed to vote democratic. And in fact, with its successful defense at the supreme court, it paves the way for similar legislation all over the country that can place a variety of small, on their face reasonable impediments, restrictions and requirements on the exercise of the vote. As that stuff piles up, it will amount over time to significant levels of voter suppression, by simply making it more inconvenient to cast a vote. There are people who will be deterred from voting by such things which includes the elderly, the disabled and others cited in the lawsuit.

I'm a republican and I'm not stupid. The rationale behind this is perfectly clear and I'm simply saying to everyone, lets cut the BS that this law was to fix the problem of voter impersonation, which can only be anecdotally shown to exist and even that quite scarce. Sure, it will deter that, but its also going to deter people from legally voting who might otherwise do so. That effect is understood and its intended and its the real reason for this law.

Indy4U2C said...

Aaron & Alaine: The reason voter fraud could not be proven is because without Voter ID, it was rampant and undocumented (like Monroe Gray's ghost employment with the fire department). Voter ID stops it from taking place. Your attempt to say there is "voter suppression" is nothing more than propaganda.

Sorry, showing ID does not suppress anything...but fraud. It gives the tool to assure validity of elections.

spooknp said...

Presidential vote mess of 2000 aside, by and large voting typically produces a clear winner the vast majority of the time...

I disagree.
Warren Township Trustee race
Orentlicher's first race
The recent Muncie Election

I can't believe folks say that the burden for an ID is very low, yet this is about voter suppression. That totally contradicts the argument. If Republicans wanted voters to be denied the right to vote, why make it so easy to get an idea for 99% of the population out there?

You are refusing to take off your political correctness glasses and see this for what it really is: The poor are more likely to vote for Democrats. I also see the poor, especially those involved in crime, living on the backs of other taxpayers, etc. having a moral standard that is much lower than other hard working folks, even the working poor they call their neighbors. These people have a moral code that causes a lifestyle vastly different than what you see in the suburbs, in Geist, etc. etc.. Their moral upbringing is based upon fraud, having no care about taking other people's money to live on ("Welfare is a right!" type logic), etc. etc.. Is it really such a bad thing to come out and say that people raised this way are more likely to engage in voter fraud than people who may have been raised that it is not OK to steal, that living on government cheese is OK in emergency situations, etc. etc..?

I find it funny that with technology today, the leftist fringe of the supreme court still wants to hold voting like it was back in the 1700s. These same judges will be the ones to take away guns because we are now in the 21st Century, not the 1700s. They have sided with government being able to take your property and giving it to another private individual so that person, and the government, can make more money. They claim it is because this might be the need for progress. Why don't they want progress when it comes to voting? We all know why. Voter fraud occurs more in the strong, lower class Democrat areas where undereducated people are lied too and those raised with poor moral values have no problem committing voter fraud.

Aaron & Alaine said...

@Indy4U2C

Voter ID was passed in order prevent a crime that you claim was rampant but nobody can document it? But I'm engaging in left wing pc doublethink? At a minimum its a wash since your earlier point was that disenfranchisement could not be proven. But neither can you prove this crime is occurring, even though you claim it is rampant.

Further, get it straight. I AGREE that requiring persons to show ID will deter voter impersonation fraud. I AGREE that the imposition of such a requirement does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.

I DISAGREE that voter impersonation is rampantly occurring and thus is the main impetus for this law. If it were such a rampant abuse, its proponents would have more than anecdotal evidence for it. You argue that without the law there was no way to know, and I suppose if no cases of such fraud surface during this primary or other elections, you will then claim you wiped out this fraud that you could not document existed? Its conveniently circular.

There are people who are legally entitled to vote who may not because they don't have a state issued ID and for whatever reason, don't obtain one in order to do so, a requirement that did not exist before, but which is now imposed to fight a crime you can't document is happening on anymore than a trivial basis.

Therefor I QUESTION the intent of a law pushed on a partisan basis to deter a crime for which there is no credible evidence that it is occurring more than anecdotally.

@spooknp

You make my case. Your whole argument is based on the premise that the poor (who you stereotype as criminal, as though having money is the standard for moral behavior, an idea refuted by the myriad number of wealthy people who are seriously corrupt) vote democrat, and somehow, these people you stereotype as lazy and amoral(which does not sound like someone who would vote in the first place or would care about influencing the political landscape so much they would commit fraud to vote multiple times) you also think are highly motivated to go out and independently commit voter impersonation fraud? Who are these crazed, poverty stricken voting criminals that you think are doing what...? Feverishly running from precinct to precinct to vote four times or ten to influence the vote for a democrat? Not to mention that they would be doing so alone, and that to be meaningful, there would need to be more than just themselves engaging in this criminal behavior. Or do you believe there are organized voter impersonation gangs out there, lying in wait for elections? A vast left wing democrat conspiracy in which an army of lazy, amoral poor people have enlisted to savage our democracy? Its a fantastical notion.

You said:

"The poor are more likely to vote for Democrats".

You want to deter that and you believe this law will help to prevent some of these evil poor from voting. You want to suppress the vote of people who don't have a lot of money because you think they are morally less qualified to cast a vote. That is textbook voter suppression baby. What a tremendous stereotype and your own statements prove my point. Your concern is that they will vote democratic and you generalize that they are committing voter fraud (a crime with no specific payoff to a poor person who you are now advancing the argument is engaging in voter fraud out of sophisticated political analysis to maintain a welfare state?). Wow.

Your post makes it perfectly that you hope that poor people are deterred from voting democrat by this law, because you figure poor people won't bother to get an ID to vote. You think the law imposes a requirement that will screen out these evil poor people who live in the city so that the pure people of Geist who are morally superior by virtue of having more money can cast their votes unmolested by the unwashed masses.

I submit what you have said is the true INTENT motivating this laws supporters and that is voter suppression. Its rigging democracy to inhibit or condition the franchise in order to deter a class of voters that for whatever reason you don't like. What you've said is the real agenda behind the law. The fear of voter impersonation that people claim is RAMPANT but can't document is a pretext to impose a restriction that you believe will operate to deter poor people that you think vote democrat. You've said it out of your own mouth plain as day. Thats is what those who are vociferously supporting this law are thinking will be the effect of it and it is an effect they desire to have.

That is a subversion of democracy and of the democratic ideals upon which the country is founded. Its despicable. One man, one vote, but apparently in the republic some would prefer, all votes are not to be considered equal. I'm a republican and I find this kind of behavior by our side abhorrent.

varangianguard said...

You are making just as any pompous, unsupported claims as teh law you so ignorantly decry.

varangianguard said...

many. and the (can't type).

Indy4U2C said...

Aaron & Alaine: Just what do you base your (wrongful) assertion that voter fraud does not exist (especially in Center Twp)??? Please state your answer.

I have worked the Center polls, encountered voter fraud, and illegal activity (Tony Duncan with gun in the chute with Julia). Enforcement to stop the fraud was not practical without a voter ID requirement! What could I do, challenge the voter??? Would that be practical?

Voter ID is the best thing to happen to elections! I am surprised it took so long.

Aaron & Alaine, are you on a propaganda mission?

Aaron & Alaine said...

@indy4u2c,

Am I on a propaganda mission? Nope. I just call it the way I see it.

Nowhere have I claimed that voter fraud does not exist. What I have said is that the fraud of voter impersonation which this law is supposed to address is not occurring on the rampant and unchecked scale proponents of this law claim. If it were, proponents of this law would be able to produce evidence of that. Something , anything.The state had to acknowledge before the Supreme Court that they had no such evidence of this supposedly rampant voter impersonation fraud. As conservatives, we are supposed to deal in facts and the facts, observation, study, anything that supports the claim that voter impersonation is a major problem is lacking in this case.

You say you have observed voter fraud. I assume what you say is true, but your evidence is a repeated anecdote about Julia Carson and what you are describing does not sound like voter impersonation, though voter fraud of some kind it sounds like it was.

I don't advance the premise that voter fraud does not exist. But neither do I accept the premise that voter impersonation prevention is why this law was pushed on a partisan basis, or that the motivation for the law is only the purest of concerns about the integrity of voting and devoid of any political motive. We live in the real world where people understand the consequences of their actions. Spooknp's position about the undesirability of poor people voting and his viewpoint that this law will discourage that group is in my view much closer to the true motivation of proponents of the law and I have yet to hear anyone in this forum say that isn't true. You're rushing to beat me back because I say that the real agenda here is voter suppression, but Spooknp cuts loose with a stereotypical diatribe about poor people on welfare with no morals who vote democrat and how this law is going to deter them, and not a one in this forum said, no, thats not what this is about. No one said he's not right. But you want to shout me down because I say its voter suppression, which is exactly what he was advocating.

The law will function to deter a certain portion of otherwise legally eligible voters from voting. That effect is understood and its intended. Proponents of the law in my view have a hard time refuting that conclusion when they claim a reason for the law (voter impersonation) which they can't document in any credible way beyond anecdotes.

The even bigger issue is the precedent now set. Any variety of supposedly reasonable restrictions may now be imposed on the exercise of the vote, and just like here, they will get put in place primarily because of their effect to deter a class of voters considered undesirable or unimportant (like Spooknp's poor people who vote democratic). That cuts both ways, so there is nothing to prevent reasonable sounding pretexts being used to deter voter populations presumed to vote republican.

Its rigging of democracy and a gaming of the system in a way that I believe is antithetical and corrosive to our political and civil life.

Indy4U2C said...

"The law will function to deter a certain portion of otherwise legally eligible voters from voting."

-I gotta call it the way I see it. That statement is propaganda! Presenting ID doesn't deter anything...except fraud. You cannot provide an example.