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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Law - 7th Circuit hears Indiana voter ID case

Today the 7th Circuit heard oral arguments in the Indiana voter ID case (for background, start with this ILB entry from yesterday).

The Election Law Blog has a good report based on a review of the oral argument (here is the link to the MP3 of the argument).

Here are links to some earlier ILB entries on voter ID laws.

Here is the AP coverage, by Tom Coyne. Some quotes:

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal judge on Wednesday sharply questioned arguments that Indiana's voter identification rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, saying opponents have failed to find a single person unable to cast a ballot under the new law.

"By not even having found one of these people, that does not convey substantial disenfranchisement," Judge Richard Posner told attorney Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana during oral arguments before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. * * *

Posner asked Falk why, if the law limits who can vote, the ACLU and Democrats could not find a single person unable to vote under the new law.

"What if there is nobody in Indiana in that position?" Posner asked.

He also asked why Democratic state Rep. William Crawford of Indianapolis, who was among those challenging the law, objected to showing his ID to vote.

"Is he shy, or is it a bad photo?" Posner asked.

"He claims he's offended," replied Thomas M. Fisher, the Indiana Attorney General's solicitor general, who argued for the state.

Falk argued that the law does affect some voters. He noted that it allows people older than age 65 to vote by absentee ballot without showing ID but does not allow them to wait until Election Day to vote.

He also said that just because the plaintiffs did not find people who would be prohibited from voting under the law does not mean they do not exist.

"There is evidence that there are people who don't have a driver's license or state ID," he said. "There are people who in three weeks will not be allowed to vote."

Fisher denied that the law is too cumbersome, noting that everyone entering the federal court building Wednesday had to show an ID.

"We're not asking them to go to the moon. We're asking them to bring an ID," he said.

Circuit Judge Terence Evans asked Fisher why no one in Indiana had ever been charged with impersonating someone at the polls if the problem is so widespread. Fisher said such crimes are difficult to detect.

Falk, however, said the state was attacking the wrong problem. Voter fraud in Indiana has involved absentee ballots, which do not require photo IDs, he said. * * *

Posner indicated it was unlikely the court would make a decision before the Nov. 7 general election.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 18, 2006 05:35 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions