Voter ID and the Supreme Court

January 21, 2008

In an earlier commentary I talked about the importance of a voter ID. That case out of Indiana has gone before the Supreme Court, and we will hear their verdict in the next few months.

Although the case shouldn’t be that controversial, it centers on the requirement in Indiana that voters show photo identification when they cast their ballot. Given the simple fact that we have to show photo IDs for so many routine actions, you wouldn’t think that requirement would be that controversial.

Opponents argue that this imposes an unconstitutional burden on voters. Yet the law allows those few citizens without a driver’s license (estimated to be around one percent) to obtain a free, state-sponsored picture ID. And even if someone arrives at the polling place unprepared, they are given a provisional ballot that they can validate later.

Opponents also argue that this law will disenfranchise low-income voters, minorities, or seniors. Yet a statistical analysis by the Heritage Foundation demonstrated that voter ID laws in other states do not depress voter turnout. It does however limit the number of dogs, cats, or deceased people who try to vote in an election.

One critic suggested that this voter ID law would move us closer to a national ID. But if you are concerned about that, you might want to have the government rethink the use of a photo ID in so many other areas of life. After all, most people vote once every two years or once every four years. But they are required to show a photo ID every time they board a plane or every time they cash a check.

How the Supreme Court rules on this case will not only affect Indiana, but may have an impact on 24 other states that have various kinds of laws on the books to prevent voter fraud. Former president Jimmy Carter pointed out that the United States is merely attempting to do what most countries already do. He said: “Voters in nearly 100 democracies use a photo identification card without fear of infringement on their rights.”

Let’s hope the Supreme Court takes that into account.

©2008 Probe Ministries