Monday, April 28, 2008

Voter ID ruling makes sense -- but so does the dissent

The United States Supreme Court today upheld Indiana's strict voter identification laws in a splintered 6-3 ruling.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the plurality opinion which said, "We cannot conclude that the statute imposes 'excessively burdensome requirements' on any class of voters."

Stevens' opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, suggests that the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.

Concurring opinions by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito suggest that there's nothing wrong with requiring voters to produce photo identification, period.

"The universally applicable requirements of Indiana's voter-identification law are eminently reasonable," Scalia wrote.

"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'", he said.

But one of the three dissenters, Justice David Souter, said that in Indiana getting a photo identification is neither free or convenient, pointing out that in many counties voters would pay fees for birth certificates and have to travel long distances to a driver's license office to get an identification card.

Souter's dissent makes a good point. If photo identification is to be required of voters, then it must be free and widely accessible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please I would love to know, how many people this would actually affect? How many people do we have in our society that can legally vote that do not have some sort of legal photo ID?

Secondly, If even a fraction of the effort that was spent in the "get out the vote" campaigns, in which many cases of fraud existed, was applied to a "GET YOUR ID" campaign, then the issue of people not having an ID would be moot. Set up a program that would pick up the people without ID's drive them to a location that would issue them one, and then drive them back. IF they can do if for the actual vote, why not for getting people the ID's to allow them to vote?