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.