Friday, June 20, 2008

Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy (Update 8)

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been a vocal opponent of Indiana's voter ID law (see my previous posts on the subject Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy, and Update 1, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4 , Update 5, Update 6, and Update 7). After the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law, it looked like the issue was pretty much over (unless a newly elected Indiana General Assembly decided to revisit the statute).

However, today a new challenge to the statute has been raised. This afternoon, the League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a suit to have the Voter ID law declared unconstitutional under the Indiana Constitution. As I've said before, the Indiana Constitution is way too often overlooked and, in this case, it looks like everyone (including, yours truly) forget to see what our State Constitution said about the issue.

Article 2 § 2. Qualification of Electors.

(a) A citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen (18) years of age and who has been a resident of a precinct thirty (30) days immediately preceding an election may vote in that precinct at the election.

(b) A citizen may not be disenfranchised under subsection (a), if the citizen is entitled to vote in a precinct under subsection (c) or federal law.

(c) The General Assembly may provide that a citizen who ceases to be a resident of a precinct before an election may vote in a precinct where the citizen previously resided if, on the date of the election, the citizen's name appears on the registration rolls for the precinct.

According to the Complaint filed by the League of Women Voters of Indiana, in 1917, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the Constitution "precludes the Legislature from modifying its requirements or from imposing ... any additional qualifications which shall be prerequisite to the exercise of the right of suffrage." In other words, the General Assembly cannot take away or narrow the right to vote as established in the Indiana Constitution.

I plan to follow this litigation closely.

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