Supreme Court Legalizes Voter Suppression
by Project Vote, Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 04:07:52 PM EDT
On Monday, April 28, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Indiana's law (Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board) requiring voters to show a government-issued photo identification before they may cast a ballot. Crawford plaintiffs argued that Indiana's strict photo ID requirements disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters. Donna Massey, Project Vote Board Member and a supporter of voting rights, issued this statement:
"The Supreme Court ruling is disappointing for Americans who want the next president to be chosen in a free and fair election in which all eligible voters have an equal opportunity to participate. The voters most harmed by the ruling are first-time voters who are registering this year in record numbers. If legislators in the 24 states where strict photo voter ID rules have been introduced take the Court's decision as a green light, voters across the country will find it more difficult to cast their ballots this Election Day. Our democracy works best when every American participates.
The real purpose of strict photo voter ID rules is to make it more difficult for some Americans to vote. It's the voters who are less likely to vote who are also less likely to have government issued ID, such as young people, the poor, elderly, and Americans of color. A University of Washington study, for example, found that in Indiana 22 percent of African-American voters lack proper identification compared to 16 percent of white voters. Twenty-one percent of voters earning less than $40,000 a year lack the necessary ID compared to just 13 percent of those earning more than $40,000. All Americans have a right to vote, even if they don't have a photo ID.
The only reason politicians support these laws is to give their party an advantage over the other. The Supreme Court took note of the partisan nature of the photo ID rules. The Court's opinion in the case said it was "fair to infer that partisan considerations may have played a significant role" in enacting the photo ID law. This ruling sends an unfortunate green light to legislators in the 24 states that are still considering strict photo voter ID laws.
The right to vote has been under assault for the past eight years by partisans who put winning elections above the right to vote. Requiring voters to show photo ID is just one of many hurdles partisans put in front of voters on their way to the ballot box. Too many Americans of color are met at their polling places with long lines, partisan challengers, faulty equipment and needlessly strict photo ID requirements.
Strict photo voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence of widespread fraudulent voting in this country. Indiana even acknowledged that there hasn't been a single case of voter impersonation in the state's history. Americans take voting seriously and do not misrepresent themselves at the polls, so politicians shouldn't misrepresent the facts to justify unnecessarily strict photo ID laws.
As the country's premiere nonpartisan voter registration organization, Project Vote wants to make sure that the Americans we help register to vote can vote and have their votes counted on Election Day. Nothing should come between Americans and their right to vote."