Thursday, September 17, 2009

Court of Appeals Strikes Down Indiana's Voter ID Law

Indiana Democrats have been at war with Indiana's Voter ID law since the day it was enacted. It's a simple requirement that a voter present a photo I.D. when they appear in person at a polling place to cast their vote. The federal courts affirmed the constitutionality of the law under the U.S. Constitution. Today, a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals (all Democrats) decided the Indiana Constitution imposes a higher standard on the uniformity of election procedures than does the U.S. Constitution and struck down Indiana's Voter I.D. law. The Court focused on the differing requirements for persons who vote absentee as opposed to those who vote in person:

We fail to see how the Voter I.D. Law's exception of those residing in state licensed care facilities, which happen to also be a polling place, would be a uniform or impartial regulation. Furthermore, the Voter I.D. Law treats in-person voters disparate from mail-in voters, conferring partial treatment upon mail-in voters.

It seems that the inconsistent and impartial treatment favoring voters who reside at state care facilities which also happen to be polling places could be excised from the Voter I.D. Law without destroying the primary objectives of the Law. However, the same cannot be said for the inconsistent and partial treatment favoring absentee voters who choose to mail their votes without destroying the opportunity for mailing votes. There may be different ways in which the inconsistent and partial treatment of the Voter I.D. Law could be cured, but it is not our task to form suggestions for legislation. See State ex rel. Indiana State Bd. of Finance v. Marion County Superior, 272 Ind. 47, 52, 396 N.E.2d 340, 344 (1979) (“Our constitution is clear that the judicial department cannot exercise any of the functions of either the legislative department or executive . . . .”). Therefore, we must reverse and remand, with instructions to the trial court that it enter an order declaring the Voter I.D. Law void.
Read more here at the Indiana Law Blog. Check out the spin Indiana Democrats are putting on this decision:

"Today's decision is a victory for elderly, disabled, and poor Hoosiers, and more importantly our democratic process.

"By declaring that this law is not uniform or impartial, the court has recognized the very real barriers that Governor Daniels and Secretary Rokita had placed between voters and the ballot box.

"We should all be interested in preserving the legitimacy of our electoral process, but to do so through disenfranchisement is simply unacceptable. From the outset, this law created more harm than good, and did little to address the vulnerabilities in our democratic voting system.

"As with Governor Daniels' recently announced changes to the identification requirements of this state, it appears that some elected officials remain blind to the effect their policies have on voters in Indiana.

"I hope that Secretary Rokita takes this opportunity to reevaluate how he can put partisanship aside and find a solution that protects all Hoosiers equally."

Uh, sorry to burst your bubble, Dan, but today's decision has nothing to do with protecting the rights of the elderly to vote. The Star has Gov. Daniels' reaction to the decision, which is very sharp and to the point:

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he had not read the ruling but had been briefed on it, called the result "preposterous" and "an act of judicial arrogance."

He said it would be appealed and, he predicted, overturned. He noted that the voter ID law already had been approved by other courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld it last year in a 6-3 opinion.

"The legislature had every right to write that law. This decision will be a footnote to history," Daniels said.


Doug said...

That is fairly stupid spin by the IN Dems. They should focus on the disparate treatment between in-person voting and absentee voting because: 1) that's what the case was about; and 2) in my mind, that's the weakest spot for the ID law's proponents when they insist that this legislation was about stopping voter fraud.

Grumpy Old Man said...

"Today, a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals (all Democrats) decided the Indiana Constitution imposes a higher standard on the uniformity of election procedures than does the U.S. Constitution"

Because, you know, in this day and age, we'd never, ever, want to do more than just the minimum required. Nope. Keep to the lowest common denominator, all in the name of "equality".

M Theory said...

This is about preserving the ability of dead people to vote.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Doug, There are two problems Voter ID didn't address. Voter registration--anybody can get registered to vote in Indiana, including illegal aliens. Hell, our BMV workers systemmatically registered illegal aliens for years under the Bayh-O'Bannon administration with a wink and a nod. The voting franchise has little meaning if we don't make people present evidence of their citizenship as a condition to registering to vote. Secondly, is in the area of absentee voting. It's so easy for fraud to be committed in this area and Todd Rokita has completely ignored the problems there. We have no way of knowing who is completing those absentee ballots and mailing them in.

Jason said...

Who were the three judges?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Riley, Kirsch and Mathias.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Doug's right. Absentee ballots require no "government-issued photo id".

So, why require them for in-person voting?

William Larsen said...

An Indiana Court struck down the Voter ID Law even after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled it was constitutional. The problem that I tried to identify years ago when this was being proposed was that it violated some people’s individual rights. I know personally two people who are denied Indiana Driver’s licenses and State ID’s because they do not have a social security number. I also identified to the state of Indiana that the Voter Registration law does not require a Social Security Number and that it could not require it under Federal Statute.

The state attempted to circumvent Federal Statutes concerning the SSN by requiring a State issued ID. A U.S. Passport is a valid photo ID for voting, but it costs over $100 to obtain. The U.S. State Department cannot require the person have a SSN to obtain a U.S. Passport. If the state were to require a SSN they would be imposing a hardship on people who do not have a SSN, violate 5 USC 552a *e)(3)(A) and subsection 7 of the Privacy Act, as well as violate the Social Security act and its subsequent amendments. There is no federal law that requires any U.S. Citizen apply and use a SSN. 26 USC 6109 Identifying numbers (IRS code) requires under section c, to assign an identifying number to any person. In section d, the IRs is allowed to use only those SSN that have been issued, but does not authorize the IRS to deny TIN's to any person who is eligible for a SSN, but who has not been issued one. See Larsen v Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service, 5631-06.

A year later I was told that absentee ballots could be sent without the photo ID to the voter’s address under certain circumstances; health reason, out of the state at the time of the election and military. When I said this did not cover all circumstances I was told the county does not verify the request is valid, but simply sends the absentee ballot out.

William Sherman Smith used valid names and SSN’s to obtain 149 different Indiana Driver’s licenses. The Social Security Online Verification System verified the name and SSN matched, but cannot identify if a driver’s license had already been issued and Indiana’s BMV could only verify if a driver’s license had been issued using that SSN. As long as you had someone’s SSN and name who had not obtained an Indiana ID or driver’s license (use out of state ID’s), the Indiana BMV issued these types of identifications without question.

Indiana began using photo recognition programs and found numerous people like William Sherman Smith who had obtained multiple ID’s. So how well did asking for a SSN work? It did diddly squat for fighting Identity Theft, while infringing on the RIGHTS of U.S. Citizens.

What is the answer? How many times will a person performing a repetitious task make an error? From my experience and what others have found, people will make an error 5% of the time. Therefore, requiring a SSN and utilizing this one ID, that has no method of being traced to the particular person presenting it as ID, will result in errors of 5%. Now what happens when you ask for more than one ID that must be verified? With each subsequent person looking at the information, there is less chance the error will go unnoticed. We know that photo recognition worked better than using the SSN. However, photo recognition is not fool proof and can be manipulated fairly easily. When you fill out the voter registration card, they should take a photo of you and issue a voter ID card. Every time you move, you need to obtain a new card. Voter registration already assigns a unique number to the individual. How hard is it to track the replacement, issue and movement of a person if a unique secure number is used?

We are chasing a ghost. With each advance in technology, the identity thieves or voter fraudsters will use future technology to continue to steal and violate laws. Criminals have been around since day one. We are treating everyone now as a potential criminal instead of a citizen.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Mr. Larsen, I've worked as an election judge at my precinct. Many of the people I know from my neighborhood, but there are others that I've never seen before. The photo ID is a minimalist approach to verifying a person is who they say they are. Just because election fraud isn't prosecuted in this state very often doesn't mean it isn't occurring. The Democrats have always used predominantly black precincts to pull of their wholesale vote fraud. If a Republican judge dares to raise a question about someone being a legitimate voter, they scream racism and voter disenfranchisement and the muscle guys show up to intimidate the official. The Republicans no longer even attempt to stop the fraud in these overwhelmingly black, Democratic precincts. They are pretty much free to do as they please and they do. The voter ID is one simple way of helping check fraud at the polls, but the Dems steal many more votes through the absentee ballot process and there's nothing to put the brakes on that, except for the occasional prosecutor who is brave enough to tackle it. Those prosecutors have confirmed on several occasions the extent of this type of fraud in Indiana.

William Larsen said...

Advance Indiana, I am not saying voter fraud does not occur. What I am trying to say is that the requirements for a photo ID do not prevent voter fraud. Those who want to commit voter fraud or identity theft still do with no hindrance at all. My problem with the system is that every government agency uses the SSN to identify a person, yet the SSN is the most insecure ID there is. Why would any government agency use it to verify the identity of a person? If you think the State ID issued to a person identifies that person, you are wrong. In most cases it does, but the BMV found thousands with multiple ID's with different names and valid SSN's and they found them using photo recognition.

The IRS routinely issued TIN’s to people, but did not verify the validity of the documents presented. They notified all 50 state BMV’s to stop relying on TIN’s for ID.

Maybe we should use the simple method of dipping a finger in ink. At least this might limit each person to one vote. The next step would be to identify who is actually eligible to vote. Any thoughts?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I stated the need to go back to the registration point and verifiy citizenship at that stage. Voter impersonation is a cinch to pull off in inner city precincts where people are dropped off by the bus load and told where to sign their name in the polling book. This typically takes place late in the day when there is a rush to get everyone voted and on their way. If there is at least one honest poll worker, the voter ID requirement can really mess that gig up.

William Larsen said...

"I stated the need to go back to the registration point and verify citizenship at that stage."

I agree 100% with this. The voter registrar is the responsible entity for determining eligibility, not the BMV.