>I’m sure we all heard the news yesterday: the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law in a 6-3 margin.
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.
A breakdown of the opinions issued by the court:
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 three others who made up the majority, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr. said in an opinion by Justice Scalia that the law was so obviously justified as “a generally applicable, nondiscriminatory voting regulation” that there was no basis for scrutinizing the record to assess the impact on any individual voters. “This is an area where the dos and don’ts need to be known in advance of the election,” Justice Scalia said.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice David H. Souter said that for those on whom the law had an impact, the burden was “serious” and the state had failed to justify it. Like the Virginia poll tax the court struck down 42 years ago, he said, “the onus of the Indiana law is illegitimate just because it correlates with no state interest so well as it does with the object of deterring poorer residents from exercising the franchise.” The other dissenters were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
Before I started voting, I was under the impression that it was required to show your ID when you go and vote. Maybe that’s because of the state I’m in. However, I’m inclined to think that this will hinder the political process. Historically, as I was taught, politicians have always wanted to limit who was allowed to vote, thus limiting who had “control” over the system. Maybe voter ID laws are another way to limit voter participation.
Forcing people to pay for an ID just to vote, in my mind, amounts to a poll tax, which was abolished with the 1965 Voting Rights bill. It affects the poor and minorities, which are more likely to vote Democratic.
What do you think? Are voter ID laws another form of a poll tax? Or, are they needed? Is it a way to crack down on voter fraud?