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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ind. Decision - 7th Circuit denies en banc review of Voter ID decision

In Crawford, William v. Rokita, Todd, a 7-4 ruling, the Order reads:

On January 17, 2007, plaintiffs-appellants filed a petition for rehearing with suggestion for rehearing en banc, and on February 6, 2007, defendants-appellees filed an answer to the petition. A vote of the active members of the court on whether to grant rehearing en banc was requested and a majority of the judges have voted to deny the petition.OE Judge Wood’s opinion dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc is appended.

The petition is therefore DENIED.

A 5-page dissenting opinion, authored by Judge Wood and joined by Judges Rovner, Evans and Williams, includes the following:
The state’s justification for the new voting requirement is voter fraud—specifically, the problem of fraud on the part of people who show up in person at the polling place. Yet the record shows that the existence of this problem is a disputed question of fact. It is also a crucial question for the inquiry that Burdick demands, because if the burden on voting is great and the benefit for the asserted state interest is small as an empirical matter, the law cannot stand. This creates, as FED. R. CIV. P. 56 puts it, a “genuine issue of material fact” that may not be resolved in favor of the state in ruling on the state’s own motion for summary judgment. In fact, it appears that no one has ever, in Indiana’s history, been charged with voter fraud. Burdick requires an inquiry into the “precise interests put forward by the State as justifications for the burden imposed,” but in this case, the “facts” asserted by the state in support of its voter fraud justification were taken as true without any examination to see if they reflected reality.
The dissent points out that:
Recent national election history tells us, to the contrary, that disenfranchising even a tiny percentage of voters can be enough to swing election outcomes. Christine Gregoire captured the gubernatorial race in Washington State in 2004 with a margin of only 129 votes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_ gubernatorial_election,_2004 (visited March 22, 2007). Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida’s 13th Congressional District won by only 329 votes. See http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Florida%27s_13th_congressional_district (visited March 22, 2007). Senator Jon Tester of Montana won his seat by a slightly larger margin—2,847 votes—but hardly a gap that implies that small numbers do not matter. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Tester (visited March 22, 2007). And surely no adult now living in the United States needs to be reminded of how close the 2000 Presidential race was.
Here is a long list of earlier ILB entires on voter ID.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 5, 2007 12:06 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions