Saturday, January 12, 2008

Depends on the Meaning of "No Evidence"

Washington Post editorial, January 10, 2008:
In many ways, yesterday's arguments before the Supreme Court revolved around fear of the unknown.

Those challenging an Indiana law requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places fear that the requirement will place an undue burden on poor, elderly and minority voters who don't already have such IDs. Such voters, they argue, often can't afford an ID or can't easily pay for or get access to birth certificates and other documents needed to obtain one. They argue that the law will have the effect of whittling down the number of these voters, who often vote Democratic.

Those defending the law -- primarily Republicans and Republican-appointed judges -- say it was enacted to prevent fraud; they fear that those intent on improperly skewing elections, especially elections expected to be close, could, for example, assume the identities of registrants who have died but whose names have not yet been removed from voter rolls.

The problem with both sides of this debate is the absence of evidence. The Indiana Democratic Party and other critics of the ID requirement lodged their lawsuit before the law took effect; their "facial challenge" is based almost entirely on speculation and hypotheticals. Those in favor of the ID requirement also are on shaky footing. While preventing voter fraud is a legitimate governmental goal, the state failed to present any evidence that in-person voter fraud is or has been a significant problem.
FW Daily News (Northwest Indiana) article, January 9, 2008:
As a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court begins today, the Indiana Voter ID law became a story with a twist: One of the individuals used by opponents to the law as an example of how the law hurts older Hoosiers is registered to vote in two states.

Faye Buis-Ewing, 72, who has been telling the media she is a 50-year resident of Indiana, at one point in the past few years also claimed two states as her primary residence and received a homestead exemption on her property taxes in both states.

Monday night from her Florida home, Ewing said she and her husband, Kenneth, “winter in Florida and summer in Indiana.” She admitted to registering to vote in both states, but stressed that she’s never voted in Florida. She also has a Florida driver’s license, but when she tried to use it as her photo ID in the Indiana elections in November 2006, poll workers wouldn’t accept it.

Subsequently, Ewing became a sort-of poster child for the opposition when the Indiana League of Women Voters (ILWV) told media that the problems Ewing had voting that day show why the high court should strike down the law.

But Indiana Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita said Monday Ewing’s tale illustrates exactly why Indiana needs the law.

"This shows that the Indiana ID law worked here, which also calls into question why the critics are so vehemently against this law, especially with persons like this, who may not have a legal right to vote in this election," Rokita said.
(via Say Anything)

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