Why Tuesday? Board Member Norman J. Ornstein
One of the most interesting and significant recent Supreme Court decisions concerned the Indiana voter identification law, in which the court by a 6-3 vote upheld the law despite zero evidence of in-person voting fraud in the state. In a major surprise, Justice John Paul Stevens led the opinion, saying the state’s interest in preventing such fraud justifies the Legislature’s action. Stevens did leave the door open to challenges to other states’ laws if they create too much of a burden on many voters.
Indiana’s law was better by far than the awful Georgia law that was overturned by the courts; in Indiana, the state would provide voters with the appropriate government-issue photo ID for free, while Georgia charged a significant fee, the equivalent of a poll tax. But Indiana’s requirements are plenty burdensome.
Elections need to be fair, and fraud is a real concern, especially in an era where the stakes are very high and the parties are close enough that many elections will be decided by razor-thin margins.
If a person cannot present a passport, driver’s license or other similar form of official identification, he or she must supply an official document, such as a birth certificate, to get the free ID, and getting a copy of a birth certificate is quite costly. The fact is that many elderly people and many poor people don’t drive, don’t fly and don’t have copies of their birth certificates. (more…)