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April 29, 2008
Supreme Court OK's Voter ID Law in Indiana
In a huge victory for anti-voter fraud forces, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 margin, ruled an Indiana law requiring photo ID to vote did not violate the constitution.
In fact, all nine justices flatly rejected the arguement of opponents of voter ID law that it somehow "disenfranchises" minority and older voters.
In a shocking display of spin control, the New York Times, 1) misrepresents the arguments of proponents of the ID law; and 2) buttresses the discredited case of the opponents.
Voting experts said the ruling was likely to complicate election administration, leading to both more litigation and more legislation, at least in states with Republican legislative majorities, but would probably have a limited impact on this year's presidential voting. The idea that the burden of proof was on the state to show that the law was needed to address a specific kind of voter fraud was not the focus of the decision. There was no evidence because Indiana didn't think it necessary to state the obvious; that this common sense measure was the least burdensome to the overwhelming majority of the state's citizens.
The issue has been intensely partisan, with Republicans supporting increased identification requirements for voters and Democrats opposing them. In what the court described as the "lead opinion," which was written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court acknowledged that the record of the case contained "no evidence" of the type of voter fraud the law was ostensibly devised to detect and deter, the effort by a voter to cast a ballot in another person's name.
But Justice Stevens said that neither was there “any concrete evidence of the burden imposed on voters who now lack photo identification.” The “risk of voter fraud” was “real,” he said, and there was “no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters.”
The Times spin notwithstanding, this is a great victory for clean elections. And the tenor of the decision bodes well for any future challenges to the concept of voter ID laws.
The decision also deals a blow to Barack Obama who is a long time supporter of the group ACORN, an organization notorious for registering people to vote who don't exist.
John Fund explains:
Obama's "Chicago Way" political experience is exactly the kind of fraud voter ID laws are set up to prevent. No wonder the candidate opposes them.
In 1995, then GOP Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law. Allowing voters to register using only a postcard and blocking the state from culling voter rolls, he argued, could invite fraud. Mr. Obama sued on behalf of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and won. Acorn later invited Mr. Obama to help train its staff; Mr. Obama would also sit on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago, which frequently gave this group grants.
Acorn's efforts to register voters have been scandal-prone. St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations didn't exist. "We met twice with Acorn before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside," said Democrat Matt Potter, the city's deputy elections director. Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group's local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month.
In Seattle, local officials invalidated 1,762 Acorn registrations. Felony charges were filed against seven of its workers, some of whom have criminal records. Prosecutors say Acorn's oversight of its workers was virtually nonexistent. To avoid prosecution, Acorn agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution.
Despite this record - and polls that show clear majorities of blacks and Hispanics back voter ID laws - Mr. Obama continues to back Acorn. They both joined briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn Indiana's law.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky