With election fever running through the air, it seems like everywhere you turn there’s another news story about the 2008 presidential campaign. However, if Indiana has its way, you might not even get to vote. The Supreme Court will review Indiana’s voter ID laws that require state-issued photo identification cards to vote. While supporters of the law say it’s necessary to prevent voter fraud (despite the fact that Indiana has never even cited a case of voter impersonation), it also disenfranchises at least 13% of Indiana’s population who lack the proper identification. This law disproportionately affects poor, elderly and minority voters who overwhelmingly lack the correct form of identification in comparison to other people. Whether they simply can’t afford the ID or they lack the mobility or transportation to get to appropriate public office to attain it, this law is preventing willing American citizens, many of who have voted all of their lives, from taking part in the political process.
“It is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today’s America without a photo ID (try flying, or even entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which we sit, without one),” wrote Judge Richard A. Posner in a January 2007 opinion by the Seventh United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upholding the Indiana law and affirming a 2007 decision by Sarah Evans Barker, a federal district court judge. “And as a consequence, the vast majority of adults have such identification.”
Showing that he completely misses the point, Judge Posner doesn’t seem realize that if people can’t afford an ID, they probably can’t afford to fly anyway. I hope the Supereme Court chooses to overturn these kinds of laws. With such a small percentage of Americans actually voting, I don’t think we should actively try to discourage more from taking part in the political process. Voting is one of the most sacred rights of our democracy. It is a right that should be guaranteed to all American citizens, not just the ones who can afford it.
Voter ID Laws Are Set to Face a Crucial Test – [New York Times]