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Monday, April 28, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Indiana's Photo ID Law

In a 6 to 3 vote the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge over Indiana's Photo ID Law, which would require voters to show a government issued identification to be allowed to cast a ballot at elections.
In the case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (07-21), the Supreme Court voted to reject a constitutional challenge to Indiana's Photo ID law, which requires people to have some form of government ID to be allowed to vote in an election.

According to the Indiana Secretary of State website, a government ID must meet 4 criteria to be acceptable to use for voting purposes.

1. Display your photo

2. Display your name, and the name must conform to your voter registration record. Conform does not mean identical. Below are examples of names that would conform to "Robert John Crew"

* Robert John Crew
* Robert J. Crew
* Robert Crew
* R. John Crew
* R. J. Crew

* Bob John Crew
* Bob J. Crew
* Bob Crew
* John Crew
* J. Crew

3. Display an expiration date and either be current or have expired sometime after the date of the last General Election (November 7, 2006)

* Including Military IDs with expiration does of "INDEF"

4. Be issued by the State of Indiana or the U.S. government

In most cases, an Indiana driver license, Indiana photo ID card, Military ID or U.S. Passport is sufficient.

The 65 page PDF file, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the main opinion said " Valid neutral justifications for a nondiscriminatory law, such as SEA 483, should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators."

JUSTICE SCALIA, joined by JUSTICE THOMAS and JUSTICE ALITO, was of the view that petitioners’ premise that the voter-identification law might have imposed a special burden on some voters is irrelevant. The law should be upheld because its overall burden is minimal and justified.

The 6 Justices that voted to reject the challenge were, Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.

The three justices that dissented were, Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.

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.

Indiana does provide free ID's to the poor and also allows those without ID to cast a provisional ballot and then allows them 10 days to show up at the county courthouse to provide identification or otherwise show the ability to prove who they are.

The ACLU issued an immediate press release stating their disappointment in todays decision which stemmed from an appeal of two lower court decisions that upheld the state's law requiring voters to present government-issued photo IDs in order to vote.

"Today's decision minimizes the very real burden that Indiana's voter ID law places on tens of thousands of eligible voters who lack a government-issued identification while accepting at face value Indiana's unsubstantiated claim of voter fraud," said Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana and lead counsel on the case.

Justice Stevens did address that very issue in the ruling by stating that Indiana providing free identification as well as they 10 days to bring verification to the courthouse would also "help reduce the burden on people who lack driver licenses."

Justice Stevens wrote the main opinion which ends on page 24, and starting on page 25, Justice Scalia writes a concurring opinion, then on page 31, Justice Souter writes his dissenting opinion. Bryers dissenting opinion starts on page 61.

This ruling comes at a crucial time with Indiana's primaries nearing but even more crucial is that the Supreme Court ruling now upholds the Voter ID Law before the 2008 presidential elections.