APRIL 28, 2008
Rejecting the argument that requiring photo identification will deter poor and minorities from voting in elections, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can require it without violating constitutional rights.
Enacted in more than 20 states to prevent fraud, the photo ID law has long been challenged by liberals and civil rights groups that claim requiring it to vote will deter the poor, elderly and minorities from casting ballots. The case that was decided by the Supreme Court this week involved Indiana’s law and could motivate other states to pass similar measures.
Lower courts have already upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan and this decision by the High Court only strengthens those rulings. In its 6-3 decision on Crawford v. Marion County Election Board the court upheld Indiana’s photo ID requirement, writing that the law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”
Indiana passed the law in 2005 to deter vote fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups immediately fought it, claiming that it was unconstitutional because it discouraged elderly, poor and minority voters who tend to vote Democrat and often lack proper ID. However, in its decision the court said “we cannot conclude that the statute imposes excessively burdensome requirements on any class of voters.”
Like most states with voter ID laws, Indiana provides photo identifications free of charge and allows voters who lack the cards to cast a provisional ballot and furnish their ID 10 days later at a county courthouse.
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