Saturday, May 26, 2007

Photo ID to Vote? 7th Circuit Says "OK"

The State of Indiana requires a photo ID to vote. The Usual Suspects sued.

...So it is that when the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in January (and effectively affirmed the decision by denial of a rehearing in April) that Indiana was within its rights to require photo IDs at the polls, the state Democratic Party and would-be voters represented by the ACLU decided (just last week) to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

But the U.S. Constitution gives to state legislatures the responsibility to “prescribe” the “times, places and manner of holding elections,” and the high court has consistently held that states have the right to impose regulations on voting in order to ensure the integrity and fairness of the balloting.

Two very familiar names emerge. Sadly, one looks like a fool with an agenda.

Plaintiffs in the Indiana case (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board) argued that the requirement for a photo ID would disenfranchise a fairly large number of voters. But, writing for the majority, acclaimed Judge Richard Posner noted that “the principle [sic] evidence on which the plaintiffs relied … was declared by the district judge to be ‘totally unreliable’ because of a number of methodological flaws.”

Against Posner’s logic and multiple citations of relevant case law, dissenting Judge Terence Evans struggled to find enough flexibility in Burdick to allow him to overrule the district court and the state Legislature and thus find the ID requirement invalid.

Most of his five-page dissent, however, is devoted neither to case law nor to citations of constitutional clauses, but rather to what he called “anecdotal tidbit[s]” and to his own impressions of how things ought to be.

Precise facts do not seem to matter to him: “This law will make it significantly more difficult for some eligible voters — I have no idea how many, but 4 percent is a number that has been bandied about — to vote.”

Facts may be unimportant to Evans, but his own policy advice to the elected state legislators does seem to matter: “Constricting the franchise in a democratic society, when efforts should be instead undertaken to expand it, is not the way to go.”

And again, without citing evidence, he writes: “I believe that most of the problems with our voting system … [he gives multiple examples] … are suggestive of mismanagement, not electoral wrongdoing.” This isn’t judging; it’s legislating from the bench.

We'll see how Evans' yammerings hold up at the SCOTUS level--if they grant cert.

1 comment:

Dave said...

If WI somehow passed a Photo ID law, and a governor signed it, the current State Supreme Court would find a way to overturn it under the rationale of the "New Federalism"...