The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws. In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana's strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to prevent fraud....
...More than 20 states require some form of identification at the polls. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, but struck down Missouri's. Monday's decision comes a week before Indiana's presidential primary.
The decision also could spur efforts to pass similar laws in other states.
Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said he hadn't reviewed the decision, but he was "extremely disappointed" by it. Falk has said voter ID laws inhibit voting, and a person's right to vote "is the most important right." The ACLU brought the case on behalf of Indiana voters.
The case concerned a state law, passed in 2005, that was backed by Republicans as a way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the law as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats...
...There is little history in Indiana of either in-person voter fraud — of the sort the law was designed to thwart — or voters being inconvenienced by the law's requirements. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver license serves as the identification.
Read the rest of the article here.
For once, I think Republicans got something right. I'm not diametrically opposed to the idea of using identification to vote. I mean, even in my home state of Michigan, I've seen voters who were able to hit the polls without showing so much as a paper ID. So I think having a legitimate form of picture identification is a necessary thing; especially when we recall the debacle in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election; where certain people (many of whom were black) were erroneously denied their right to vote because of identification issues. Knowing who cast a vote is one of the best check and balance systems we can have.
Still, I'm deeply concerned that a misapplication of this law could spell trouble for minority and poor voters; particularly those who would most likely vote Democrat. While I think that people should have identification anyway and not just for the sake of voting; I fully accept the reality that many people simply do not. The hundred bucks or so that I can spend to keep my identifications up to date is not necessarily a privilege held by poorer people. For those people, mandating them to purchase ID for voting comes dangerously close (to me) as reinstituting the poll tax; which was deemed unconsititutional after the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
If the Voter ID law is to be effective without trampling on the poor and marginalized, I think the government should create a universal Voter Identification Card for all age-appropriate voters. These cards should include the person's name, photo, social security number, date of birth, and an unduplicable seal. Further, these cards should be issued as a courtesy to anyone who decides to exercise their right to vote (including convicts). Anything less than that is a slap in the face to democracy.
That's what I think. But what say you?