Monday, April 28, 2008

The Supreme Cout Upholds Law Requiring Photo I.D. For Voting

(Updated)In one of its major decisions, the Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board to uphold Indiana's law mandating a photo i.d. for voting. This marks a milestone in protecting the integrity of the democratic process.

The Indiana law at issue in the above case was an effort by the state to combat voter fraud. As has been the case in every state where such laws have been passed, the far left took exception and asked the law be declared unconstitutional. Apparently, the far left views voter fraud as a constitutional right. The opponents didn't help their case before the Supreme Court when one of the individuals they highlighted to show an undue burder in fact was committing voter fraud.

As the court looked at the issue:

The only kind of voter fraud that [the Indiana law] addresses is in-person voter impersonation at polling places. The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history. Moreover, petitioners argue that provisions of the Indiana Criminal Code punishing such conduct as a felony provide adequate protection against the risk that such conduct will occur in the future. It remains true, however, that flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years, and that Indiana’s own experience with fraudulent voting in the 2003 Democratic primary for East Chicago Mayor — though perpetrated using absentee ballots and not in-person fraud— demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.

The Court went on to give several examples of voter fraud, with the most colorful being in a footnote, recounting the days of Boss Tweed in post Civil War New York:

One infamous example is the New York City elections of 1868. William (Boss) Tweed set about solidifying and consolidating his control of the city. One local tough who worked for Boss Tweed, “Big Tim” Sullivan, insisted that his “repeaters” (individuals paid to vote multiple times) have whiskers:

“‘When you’ve voted ’em with their whiskers on, you take ’em to a barber and scrape off the chin fringe. Then you vote ’em again with the side lilacs and a mustache. Then to a barber again, off comes the sides and you vote ’em a third time with the mustache. If that ain’t enough and the box can stand a few more ballots, clean off the mustache and vote ’em plain face. That makes every one of ’em good for four votes.’”

A. Callow, The Tweed Ring 210 (1966) (quoting M. Werner, Tammany Hall 439 (1928))

The meat of the Court's finding from the majority opinion written by Justice Stevens is:

But just as other States provide free voter registration cards, the photo identification cards issued by Indiana’s BMV are also free. For most voters who need them, the inconvenience of making a trip to the BMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.

The test adopted by the Court did hold open the possibility that other schemes or additional evidence of significant burden might change the opinion, but it found no such evidence in the record.

Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito filed a concurrence, opining that the Courts decision should have adopted a different test that left no loopholes. As Justice Scalia wrote, "petitioners’ premise that the voter-identification law might have imposed a special burden on some voters is irrelevant."

The three most far left members of the Court, Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter argued "State may not burden the right to vote merely by invoking abstract interests, be they legitimate, . . . or even compelling, but must make a particular, factual showing that threats to its interests outweigh the particular impediments it has imposed." In other words, common sense measures to detect and stop voter fraud are unconstitutional unless you can already detect voter fraud. Amazing.

This is a major win for Democracy. You can find the court's decision here.

Update: Here is hoping that Dafyyd at Big Lizards is correct in his assessment of the ramifications of this decision:

Such bills will, when fully implemented -- for example, when extended to the rest of the United States and to include absentee balloting -- make it much, much harder to commit voter fraud... and today's Democratics depend so heavily on fraud, they probably can't survive without it.

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