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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Coverage of Voter ID ruling today [Updated]

Re the opinion issued earlier today (ILB summary here), Deanna Martin and Charles Wilson of the AP have this story.

Masson's Blog had this post, headed "Indiana Supreme Court Holds Voter-ID Law Is Not Facially Invalid; Permits Future 'As-Applied' Challenges."

Election Law Blog has this brief post.

[Updated at 3:00 PM] Jon Murray of the Indianapolis Star has now written a long story on the decision, headed "Indiana justices uphold voter ID law." Some quotes:

The Indiana Court of Appeals had ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional in a 3-0 decision because of exemptions from the voter ID rule for mail-in absentee voters and for residents of state-licensed care facilities that serve as polling places.

But today, the state Supreme Court brushed aside the importance of those exemptions because they are based on legitimate reasons or apply to very small portions of the population. * * *

In an earlier case based on alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's law in a 6-3 decision. The League then filed its lawsuit in 2008, focusing exclusively on the Indiana Constitution. It argued the voter ID law had created a new qualification for voting and was being applied unequally to voters, violating the Equal Privileges and Immunities provision.

"In our view, however, the Voter ID Law's requirement that an in-person voter present a government-issued photo identification card containing an expiration date is merely regulatory in nature," the state Supreme Court's opinion says.

But the court ruled only on the general constitutional challenge, holding open the door for the possibility of a more specific challenge to the law by otherwise qualified voters actually kept from voting by the ID requirement. Opponents have cited some circumstances, including a dozen nuns in St. Joseph County in Northern Indiana who weren't allowed to cast ballots in the 2008 primary because they lacked valid IDs. * * *

The court ruled that the specifics of the law satisfy Indiana's requirements for uniformity and reasonableness in election regulations, despite the two exceptions. "They apply only with respect to special alternative voting accommodations in which the photo identification requirement would be impracticable, unnecessary, or of doubtful utility."

In his dissent, Boehm wrote that the League deserved its day in court to prove its claims about the law. He also went further, declaring: "I think both precedent and the language of the Indiana Constitution dictate that the voter ID requirement is an unauthorized qualification for casting a ballot," and as such, would require a constitutional amendment to enact.

"The majority finds the voter ID to be a reasonable implementation of the registration requirement," Boehm's dissent says. "The problem, of course, is that the plaintiffs claim that some eligible citizens are unable or unwilling for various legitimate reasons to obtain a voter ID, particularly in light of the recent restrictions designed to address national security concerns.

"We ordinarily give wide latitude to legislative judgment on matters of reasonable relationship in classifications created by statute. But any limitation on the right to vote surely strikes at one of the core values embodied in the Indiana Constitution."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 30, 2010 12:31 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions