Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Photo IDs and voting

There's been much said about the Supreme Court challenge this week (Indiana Democratic Party v. Indiana Secretary of State and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board) to Indiana's Voter ID law which requires voters to provide a photo ID (see here for a good discussion of the problems with the Indiana law).

There are two parts to this issue: whether fraud occurs by individuals casting multiple votes, and whether the requirement for photo ID is burdensome.

For the former, see the Washington Post OpEd which notes "Indiana has conceded that there have been no cases in state history of voter impersonation that an ID law would have prevented".

For the latter, these discussions talk about young, minority, and elderly voters, all of whom are less likely than others to have a government issued photo ID. I'd like to offer a case in point: my mother. My mother hasn't missed an election in about 60 years. But due to a glitch, her non-driver's license (i.e., government issued photo ID) expired several years ago. Due to the Patriot Act, the only way to get a new one is to go to Department of Motor Vehicles office, which she physically can't do. So she has no valid photo ID (her passport has also expired).

Her situation is not atypical. I mention it only because I think to many proponents of Voter ID, people without an ID don't really exist. But they do - even in middle class suburban neighborhoods.


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