Thursday, January 10, 2008
Are voter ID requirements constitutional?




Jami Floyd
360 Contributor




Voting is not just a political issue. It's a legal one. And a constitutional one. That's why the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on one of the most controversial voting issues of this century: Voter ID Laws.

In a case brought by the Democratic Party and the NAACP, the Court will decide whether Indiana's requirement that voters show identification at the polls is a violation of the right to vote. The question is whether such laws unfairly suppress the vote. The state argues that the requirement is one of many protections in place to prevent election fraud.

Democrats, however, say the Indiana law, and others like it, have a disproportionate effect on poor communities and among minorities and the elderly. Of course, these are voters who tend to vote for Democrats. Buts its interest in the case doesn't make the party wrong about these wrong-headed requirements.

Of course, we need to be very concerned about fraud. But voter ID requirements are eerily reminiscent of polling taxes and literacy tests and the post-reconstruction requirement that black men, long denied an education in this country, sign their names before voting.

The Court is not likely to see it that way. Yesterday's questioning by the Justices strongly suggests that Indiana will win the day, and that democracy will lose.

Check out Jami's blog In Session:
Posted By CNN: 8:14 AM ET
  6 Comments
Jami,
Well I think people should have to show ID to vote. I mean there is alot of fraud going on now around voting. Here in Georgia someone was voting using dead peoples ID's!! They had voted in several counties using peoples names that had passed away! There needs to be a way to stop that and insure that people are who they say that they are! Because this will only get worse if it's not stopped now! How corrupt can we let our voting process get!?

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 9:34 AM ET
I've always had to show identification when I went to vote. It was never a hardship and when I first started voting I was as poor as the proverbial church mouse.

In this day and age when most states have photo driver's licenses or photo ids if you want one, I'm not sure I understand why it would be a problem. Poll taxes and literacy tests were designed specifically to keep certain parts of the population from voting. Showing legal id was designed to be sure you weren't voting on someone else's voter registration.

In a country where one of the old slogans used to be "vote early and vote often" I can see why election officials feel the id is needed.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 9:36 AM ET
I work as a clerk at elections. I am the one who is responsible for the book. If there is voter fraud, I am the one who has to go before the grand jury. There are people who are dishonest, showing proper i.d. protects the whole voting system.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 10:23 AM ET
As a resident of Indiana, I do not have a problem with the voter ID regulations. The goal is to stop voter fraud and there are plenty of ways for people to obtain an ID if they do not have a driver's license, passport, military ID . . . Identification for voting purposes can be obtained free of charge at any license branch, so those people who may not be able to afford an ID do not have to pay. For those without birth certificates, they will accept secondary documentation when issuing the ID card. For those people with religious objections to being photographed, they may ask for an exemption. With these measures, the voter ID laws do not stop or discourage people from voting, it merely enables voters to feel slightly more secure.
Posted By Anonymous Penelope, Indianapolis, IN : 11:32 AM ET
I'm for showing an ID, period.
Voter fraud happens and to pretend it doesn't is foolish...require the ID.

Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 11:49 AM ET
What a truly bizarre and alarmist way to view a requirement for identification to vote. Voter IDs are reminiscent of poll taxes and literacy tests? How ludicrous. Is it that unbearable a burden to ask that someone sit in front of a camera for a moment in order to have their picture placed on, say, a driver's license or state ID card? Is it physically demanding to hand a formalized and official picture of your face over to an election official so they can compare it to the real thing?

As it stands right now, when I go to vote all I have to do is sign my name next to -- get this -- a copy of my signature . Suppose a felon, non-citizen, or vote-stacker decides to look a the list and try to vote on my behalf. What happens when I arrive to cast my ballot? "Sorry, sir, but you've already voted?" No thanks.

Asking for ID helps to secure the process, and is not unreasonably burdensome.

Josh
Columbus, OH
Posted By Blogger Josh : 11:55 AM ET
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