By Arlen Parsa on 9/26/2007, 10:56am PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa of The Daily Background

The good news is that for the first time, the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of whether or not GOP-supported laws that require voters to present specific types of photo identification at polling places are constitutional.

The bad news: it's Bush's Supreme Court.

The New York Times reports today that SCOTUS will consider the issue after mixed rulings in several states where photo-ID laws have both been upheld and struck down. A bit of background from the Times:

All of the laws have been enacted since the disputed Florida vote in the 2000 presidential election, and all have been pushed by Republican legislators who maintain that the laws are necessary to deter voter fraud. The laws have been resisted and challenged by Democrats who argue that they exaggerate the dangers and incidence of voter fraud while impermissibly sacrificing voter access. The case the court accepted was brought by Democrats from Indiana.

Democrats argue that the laws place a particular burden on eligible voters who are poor or elderly and who lack driver’s licenses and ready access to substitute forms of identification. Under the Indiana law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2005, the photo ID must be current, so that an elderly person who is no longer driving would not be able to use an expired license as identification.

Both the ACLU and the NAACP plan to argue the case, which is an appeal from a lower court, against the Indiana law before SCOTUS in the coming months. Remarked the lone dissenting judge from the lower court ruling, Terence T. Evans, "Let’s not beat around the bush. The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic." Now there's a judge that doesn't mince words!


Since proponents of photo-ID laws don't have any real evidence of in-person voter fraud, the type of fraud that they claim is common, which these laws are designed to combat, they're relying on a strange argument. Tongue in cheek, Times explained it recently:

Lacking evidence of actual fraud, proponents of the laws have started to rely on an unusual argument, one given credence by the Supreme Court in a hurried and unsigned decision last year allowing an Arizona election to go forward in the face of a challenge to that state’s voter identification law.

“Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised,” the decision said.

Did you catch that? The reason to risk actual disenfranchisement is to combat the possibility that some voters may “feel” disenfranchised because they think their votes may count less thanks to unproven fraud. The recent Georgia decision cited that bit of legal logic.

Judge Evans, in his dissent, said it might be nice to have some facts before putting the right to vote at risk.

"Is it wise to use a sledgehammer to hit either a real or imaginary fly on a glass coffee table?" the same judge asked, of the Indiana photo-ID law. Let's hope the Supremes agree.