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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - More on 7th Circuit's decision upholdng Indiana voter ID law

The Terre Haute Trib-Star has a strong editorial today titled "Will state ever admit to voter ID law’s real intent?" Some quotes:

Disappointed but not surprised.

That pretty much sums up our reaction to the ruling this past week by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Indiana’s voter ID law. In a 2-1 split, the three-judge panel ruled that, while the 1-year-old law likely would not affect many voters, its potential inclines toward helping rather than harming.

Potential was all the panel had to go on. Neither the plaintiffs — the American Civil Liberties Union and Indiana’s Democratic Party — nor the defendants — the state — could come up with a Hoosier who had been prohibited by the law from voting or an incidence of voter fraud that would have been derailed by a photo ID. * * *

“Let’s not beat around the bush,” [Judge] Evans wrote in dissent]. “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

We would like to echo Judge Evans’ assessment. We would also urge Ken Falk, the legal director of the Indiana ACLU, to press his clients, as he said he would, to file for a rehearing of the case before the full 7th Circuit Court panel.

A bad law upheld by two judges does not make a good law. Indiana’s photo voter ID requirements, which are the most cumbersome in the 50 states, may be legal for now, but they aren’t right. * * *

A Harvard Law School grad and former U.S. Court of Appeals law clerk, [Sepncer] Overton compared the spate of new voter ID laws (almost always passed by GOP bodies) to gerrymandering.

“This is not about individuals, it’s about reducing voter turnout in particular pockets, and that is affecting elections,” he said.

Unlike the two 7th Circuit Court judges, Overton sees the potential for harm in laws such as Indiana’s far outweighing the potential for help. So does Judge Evans, and so do we.

If it takes a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, so be it. Maybe by then, even Indiana’s legislators will have studied the bona fide evidence, not just half-baked anecdotes, and agree with Overton that photo ID requirements “throw out the baby with the bath water because there is a drop of bath water on the baby’s arm.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 14, 2007 10:09 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions