Supreme Court Mulls Voter ID Laws

You can’t board a plane or enter many courthouses without having some form of photo identification. But you can vote in many states without identification or proof of identity of any kind.

When I voted for the first time in Arlington, Virginia, I presented my driver’s license, naively assuming I needed to show ID. In response, a stern-faced poll worker told me “that’s illegal.” (It seems that the Virginia Supreme Court had recently rejected a voter ID requirement under state law; but at the time, I knew nothing of that, and I thought the poll worker was suggesting that I had done something illegal, not that the poll worker would be acting illegally if he requested ID from me).

Recently, however, that has begun to change, and a number of states have enacted laws requiring voters to present ID, citing a need to prevent vote fraud.

Now, the Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal of a ruling upholding Indiana’s voter ID laws in a case recently decided by the federal appeals court in Chicago.

The NAACP and state Democratic Party leaders claim many voters don’t have ID and are disenfranchised by the new laws. But they haven’t been able to point to proof that voters actually lack photo ID.

Federal district judge Harold Murphy, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, initially barred Georgia from enforcing its voter ID laws after the NAACP and others claimed it prevented minorities from voting.

But Judge Murphy changed his mind and upheld the law after he discovered these claims were bogus. The law’s challengers presented the Judge with “evidence” claiming that some voters lacked photo ID.

But among the voters opponents of the law listed as supposedly lacking ID was the Judge himself! The judge of course has multiple forms of photo ID. It turned out that their claims about voters lacking ID were just bunk.

It’s unclear how much voter fraud is occurring. But it does seem clear that voter ID laws, whatever their merits, don’t disenfranchise people.