A week from today, voters will go to the polls in North Carolina and Indiana. Voters in both states are eager to have their voices heard in the Democratic nomination battle. But voters in the Hoosier State, including the 300,000 who have registered since January, must bring more than enthusiasm to the polling place. They better bring a valid photo ID.
In the most important voting rights case since Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s law requiring voters to present a current photo ID. The law was passed by Indiana's Republican-controlled legislature on a party line vote.
In a 6-to-3 ruling, the Supreme Court held the requirement did not impose an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote:
The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.
Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters, said:
This is a disgraceful decision by a court that has no credibility on election issues. The court has shown once again that it does not respect voters.
Because of the procedural status of the case, there was no record on which the Court could judge how great the burden of a photo ID requirement would be on voters. Nonetheless, the three key justices found that the burden was not "excessively burdensome." This finding is "intellectually as well as morally bankrupt.
There is a concerted effort in this country to disenfranchise legal voters and, unfortunately, this Supreme Court has joined those ugly efforts. …
We can no longer look to this Supreme Court to ensure fair elections.
The fight to protect voters and remove barriers to the voting booth continues.