The Voter ID Issue

What you find depends on where you look, Yogi Berra might have said if he read the United States Supreme Court’s recent opinion (4/28/08) in the Indiana voter ID case, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. The 6-3 majority decided that the challengers of the law did not come forward with people who were, in fact, prejudiced against by the operation of the voter photo ID requirement — which is not an easy task, somewhat akin to proving a negative. The dissenters argued that the State of Indiana did not prove there were frauds that warranted the passage of this law, aimed, supposedly, at preventing said alleged frauds. One does not see what one does not find.

Voter ID laws, recommended by a national advisory commission, are aimed at expediting and sanitizing the current voting process — an admirable intention. Other states have more relaxed voter-ID laws than Indiana’s. And it is notable that all the Republicans in the Indiana legislature voted for the law, and all the Democrats against it. Might there have been a, ahem, political impetus for the law? The amicus groups protesting the Indiana law argued that the effect, if not the motive, of the requirement was political, to deter poor and unsophisticated voters, often Democrats. The law’s defenders cleverly argued that if the law is neutral, it is not a constitutional problem if it falls more heavily on a particular group.

The partisans found what they were looking for, while Justice remained blind.