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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ind. Decisions - "Is voter fraud or politics the issue" in the voter ID case?

"Is voter fraud or politics the issue?" is the headline today to a commentary piece by Sylvia A. Smith, Washington editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that concludes:

Is the right to vote such a cornerstone of U.S. democracy that even one additional barrier between a single voter and the ballot box is too much?

That seems to me to be the heart of the case, not whether the lawsuit was filed by an organization as opposed to a person. And it’s interesting to see who’s on which side.

You wouldn’t think Republicans would embrace the greatest-good-for-the-greatest-number argument. Moreover, the Democrats’ approach – the individual’s right transcends the collective well-being – has a libertarian whiff that might be more at home in the GOP.

But of the two, the Republicans’ argument is more incongruous because they flatly deny the partisan advantage they gain when the law makes it tougher for a class of Democratic-leaning voters to vote. The Democrats readily acknowledge that it’s their voters – the elderly, the poor, minorities – who are more likely to not have a driver’s license or passport and, therefore, are less likely to be able to vote if they have to jump through hoops.

Republican defenders of the law (who are quick enough to sniff out partisan motivation when it suits them), are shocked that anyone would so cynically suspect them of trying to tweak the outcome of elections.

They talk about the sanctity of voter confidence and argue that anything done to improve voter confidence helps prop up the republic. They discount, however, the value of voters’ confidence that the system will be run fairly and not skewed to help or hurt one party over the other.

Several justices asked why, if the GOP-led Indiana General Assembly was only concerned with preventing in-person voter fraud, it didn’t pass a law that required a photo on Hoosiers’ voter registration card.

Why, indeed?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 13, 2008 12:46 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions