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Supreme Court to hear voter I.D. case? *

Monday, September 24th, 2007

* 9/25 Morning Update: Word via e-mail from Adam Liptak that the Supreme Court will take up the case. He also directed me to Loyola Law Professor Rick Hansen’s election law blog, where he got the info.

* 9/25 Afternoon Update: The New York Times has a piece up with the news.

In this morning’s New York Times, columnist Adam Liptak notes that today, in private, the Supreme Court will consider whether or not they want to take on Indiana’s voter identification law, put into place in 2005. Liptak responds in the piece to federal appeals court judge Judge Richard A. Posner’s January opinion that having photo identification is part and parcel of modern life in America. Liptak writes:

But somewhere between 13 million and 22 million Americans of voting age, most of them poor, get by without driver’s licenses, passports and other kinds of government documents bearing their pictures, perhaps because they do not have the money to drive, much less to fly.

The piece’s title is “Fear but Few Facts in Debate on Voter I.D.’s” — and Liptak cites numerous sources which come at the debate from numerous angles. He reports that a Heritage Foundation study found no negatie impact on voter turnout in states where I.D. laws were in place. But he also quotes a law professor from George Washington University who said in February that “the number of legitimate voters who would fail to bring photo identification to the polls is several times higher than the number of fraudulent voters.”

Liptak seems to err on the side of less restrictions, not more. To see why, click below.

He writes:

Lacking evidence of actual fraud, proponents of the laws have started to rely on an unusual argument, one given credence by the Supreme Court in a hurried and unsigned decision last year allowing an Arizona election to go forward in the face of a challenge to that state’s voter identification law.

“Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised,” the decision said.

Did you catch that? The reason to risk actual disenfranchisement is to combat the possibility that some voters may “feel” disenfranchised because they think their votes may count less thanks to unproven fraud. The recent Georgia decision [to allow a voter I.D. law to go into effect] cited that bit of legal logic.

Stay tuned here for developments.

Previously on WT?BLOG
GA voter ID law upheld

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