Thursday, September 17, 2009

Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy (Update 9); And Now It Is Unconstitutional Too!

One issue about which I’ve written extensively is Indiana’s Voter ID law: Voter ID Law Is Bad for Democracy, Update, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, Update 5, Update 6, Update 7, and Update 8. Well today, a three judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled (.pdf) that Indiana’s Voter ID law is unconstitutional under the Indiana Constitution.

A detailed explanation of the Court’s ruling would probably bore most readers. In sum, the Court found that the disparate treatment of absentee voters and in-person voters (remember that absentee voters do not have to produce photo identification) violated the so-called privileges and immunities clause of the Indiana Constitution. The Court also took issue with the exception in the statute for Hoosiers who live in a state licensed care facility that also serves as a polling station. These decisions were based on Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution:

The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.

Rather than discuss the rationale for the Court’s decision (and I’ve written at length already about my thoughts on the issue), I wanted to take a few moments to look at some of the reaction to the decision. First, there is this from Gov. Mitch Daniels:

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he had not read the ruling but had been briefed on it, called the result "preposterous" and "an act of judicial arrogance."

He said it would be appealed and, he predicted, overturned. He noted that the voter ID law already had been approved by other courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld it last year in a 6-3 opinion.

"The legislature had every right to write that law. This decision will be a footnote to history," Daniels said.

I’m sorry but “preposterous” and “judicial arrogance” is more than a bit strong given that the Court of Appeals issued a ruling that prevents disenfranchisement of voters, that improperly treats Hoosiers differently from one another, and which implicitly recognizes, unlike the Indiana General Assembly, that voter registration fraud and absentee voter fraud are more problematic than in-person voter fraud. Gov. Daniels also notes that the United States Supreme Court upheld the Voter ID last year. True enough, but with one little problem. The challenge before the United States Supreme Court dealt with the constitutionality of the Voter ID law under the United States Constitution. The current challenge focuses, instead, on the Indiana Constitution. And guess what? They’re not identical. In fact, in many respects, the Indiana Constitution grants to citizens even more rights than the United States Constitution. You might think that Indiana’s governor would know and appreciate that fact…

Another interesting thing to note is that some proponents of the Voter ID law have been quick to note that all three judges on the panel are Democrats. How they know this, I’m not entirely sure. More importantly, I’m not sure why this matters. Are we to presume that the judges put aside their impartiality for issues such as this? If so, wouldn’t that mean that our entire judicial system is a farce? After all, if we’re to presume that Democrats are to be expected to rule one way, then shouldn’t the same be said for Republicans? For the record, in the 6-3 decision in the United States Supreme Court last year, only two of the nine judges were appointed by a Democratic President. Hmm.

Finally, I thought that it would be instructive to include a handful of the comments posted on the website for The Indianapolis Star in response to the Star’s article on the decision:

  • This just opened the door for Illegal Immigrants to have a voice in our fair state, way to go your fricken liberals and judges.
  • One word screams for the need to have such a law in place in every State. ACORN.
  • Oh boy, here comes ACORN with 400,000 more fraudulent votes. The liberals are dancing in the streets of Indiana today. I used to live in Chicago, and I know about how how the Democrats cheat everyone. The corrupt ACRON got Obama elected in Indiana now we can look forward to more fraud.
  • Our state constitution and those enforcing it don’t seem to mind the inequality given to one group of criminals based on their ethnicity. Plus those pushing to dismiss laws to stop voter fraud especially from illegal aliens are mostly one ethnic group. ¶ The inequality or special treatment for criminals that enter this country illegally, demand special treatment and are voting, are granted favorite treatment from crooked businesses that hire them, to state/federal benefits and leaves honest citizens and immigrants shaking their heads. Asking the question how do we stop this in some cases racist or agenda driven insanity. ¶ Granted there is voter fraud from citizens and illegal immigrants come from more than on ethnic group but those hindering a end to the favorite treatment are those that gain from this in one form or another, or are the of the same ethnic group.
  • Yes, voter fraud was hot and heavy. And yes, it was Republicans that crafted the law because the Dems were cheating by the thousands. Not a thing wrong with this law.

I’m sure that we’ll be hearing more of the same in the coming days and weeks.

Should you find yourself in a discussion on the issue, ask the following: How many cases of in-person voter fraud have ever been documented in Indiana? (The answer, by the way, as the State of Indiana acknowledged in the federal case, is zero!) So, then, what is the real purpose of this law if the harm that it is allegedly intended to prevent does not exist? Moreover, what is the real purpose of this law if it completely ignores the most likely points in the voting process at which fraud could be perpetrated?

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