Identifying the whiners

posted at 7:28 am on April 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

After the Supreme Court upheld the Indiana voter-ID law yesterday by a 6-3 vote, I figured that we would hear whining from the usual suspects this morning. Interestingly, the pundits seem remarkably quiet about it, but the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times proved me correct. What a relief! Both see this as a “retreat” and a dark day for democracy, when the decision follows common sense.

Let’s start with the Gray Lady, which sees this as a “sad reversal”:

Democracy was the big loser in the Supreme Court on Monday. The court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law, which solves a nearly nonexistent problem by putting major barriers between voters — particularly minorities — and the ballot box. Worse, the court set out a standard that clears the way for other states to adopt rules that discourage disadvantaged groups from voting. It is a sad reversal for a court that once saw itself as a champion of voting rights.

In 2005, Indiana passed one of the nation’s toughest voter ID laws. It requires voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls. Private college IDs, employee ID cards and utility bills are unacceptable. For people without a driver’s license — who are disproportionately poor and minority — the burden is considerable. To get acceptable ID, many people would be forced to pay fees for underlying documents, such as birth certificates.

This should not have been a hard case. The court has long recognized that the right to vote is so fundamental that a state cannot restrict it unless it can show that the harm it is seeking to prevent outweighs the harm it imposes on voters.

On the Left Coast, the LA Times sounded less hysterical but still misses the point:

Indiana has a right to safeguard the integrity of its elections, but its identification requirement imposes sufficiently burdensome rules that it raises the question of whether the state is actually trying to discourage certain types of people — the poor, the elderly, the infirm — from exercising their right to vote. It’s one thing to deter fraud; it’s another to deter voting, particularly by certain classes of voters.

Despite their potential for abuse, identification rules might be worth considering if Indiana were combating widespread voter impersonation. However, even the court’s majority opinion recognized that “the record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.” So the state risks disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters to fix a problem that does not exist.

Both editorials raise the specter of the poll tax, a despicable effort to deny the poor and mainly black voters access to the franchise. The NYT asserts that this court would likely have upheld it, while the LAT merely uses it to show a supposed inconsistency between the 1966 court and the current court. But that is a ludicrous assumption. The paying of a tax had no material connection to the vote, which is why the Supreme Court threw it out, decades too late. As even the two editorials grudgingly admit, the state has a serious and vital interest to ensure that people are properly identified as eligible to vote in the precinct in which they cast votes, which makes this completely different from the poll tax.

Why is identification important? When anyone commits fraud to cast a vote in an election, it diminishes the power of each legitimate vote in the community by diluting them. That effect can easily extend past the precinct, as the 7,000 fraudulent votes in Milwaukee demonstrated in 2004. It perverts the results, and worse, it instills a mistrust of the democratic processes that undergird our Republic. Voter fraud damages democracy in both ways.

States have a vital interest in preventing that kind of damage, and waiting until the damage occurs to address that interest makes no sense at all. Should we wait to pass laws against real estate fraud until a wave of it sweeps across in each community — or does it make more sense to learn a lesson from the first state in which it happens? How many elections have to be delegitimized through fraud before the NYT and LAT believe a state can start asking to check ID, something that everyone writing a check at a grocery store has to do?

Having a government ID is not a high hurdle in any case, and certainly not in Indiana, where the state will subsidize its cost to low-income voters. The importance of elections and the vital interest in maintaining confidence in their results means that American voters can assume the trivial burden of getting an ID in the months preceding an election. Or perhaps the NYT won’t mind when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade on a 14-3 vote.

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Exactly, Rose. There could be a Get Out The ID campaign, with special vans to take people down to the ID center, and if necessary, someone there to help them through the process. This would have the added potential benefit of stimulating voter turnout in poor and minority communities.

Everybody gets an ID, everybody wins. Since an ID is an important/useful item to have in all areas of life, an initiative like this would help people get access to all kinds of things in addition to voting. Like renting videos. Right, crr6?

Missy on April 29, 2008 at 8:52 PM

It should be pointed at that an ID card in Indiana cost $13 for under 65, $10 for over 65, last for 6 years.

Are the liberals telling us that a resident can’t earn that much in 6 bloody years?

William Teach on April 29, 2008 at 9:02 PM

20 million. Twenty. Million. Hmm, now where have I heard that number before? I have to wonder how many of those 20 million aren’t Americans, but instead are just people in America.

James on April 29, 2008 at 9:32 PM

Crap, I goofed. The 1966 case implicated only state elections, so the 24th Amendment is irrelevant. Adding further irony, that case also had three dissenters.

Xrlq on April 29, 2008 at 10:14 PM

Companies in fear of crackdown on illegals.

Fear is spreading among many L.A. companies as the federal government steps up its enforcement of immigration rules, raiding workplaces and issuing audit notices that require businesses to prove their employees are legal.

Companies in industries with high numbers of undocumented workers are re-interviewing workers, firing those who can’t produce adequate documentation and even considering importing workers from other states – all in an effort to head off enforcement actions that can close down a business.

“You look at the apparel, restaurant, construction and agriculture industries, and there’s definitely more fear among employers now,” said Josie Gonzalez, partner at Pasadena-based immigration law firm Gonzalez & Harris LLP and chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s worksite enforcement committee. . .

See the video of CEO Dov Charney in his underwear running around the plant

DfDeportation on April 30, 2008 at 1:20 AM

I don’t know who these “disadvantaged” people that don’t have an ID are. I’m a police dispatcher and the only ones that I’ve noticed not having an ID are illegals.

Every brain-damaged meth head on the street can pull out picture ID. But if illegals have any they share it with their 30 closest friends.

Judging from the number of contacts that my officers have with elderly people that have no business driving but have valid licenses, there is no great shortage of IDs among the elderly either.

schmuck281 on April 30, 2008 at 4:10 AM

Keep it on a state or local level.

LevStrauss on April 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Tell that… to the quadriplegic who doesn’t, obviously, have a drivers license nor a passport, and has to pay $100 to obtain a State approved ID…

PresidenToor on April 29, 2008 at 5:14 PM

What state charges $100 for a (non-drivers) ID? For that matter what state charges that for a drivers license? A passport doesn’t cost that much ($85, IIRC), and being a quadriplegic does not preclude one from getting a passport.

And how is that applicable to INDIANA, which, as I understand it, has a FREE voter ID?

MTinMN on April 30, 2008 at 12:50 PM

An estimated 20 million Americans do not have a the required photo-ID and more than 20% of black voters in Indiana don’t own one. These are hardly small outliers or “extreme circumstances”. There is not a demonstrable risk of voter fraud as indicated in my earlier posts, it is rare to non-existent in both Indiana and the country as a whole. As to your last sentence…everyone who is a law-abiding, adult U.S. citizen “deserves” a vote. Who are you to say otherwise? If anything we should be undetaking efforts to stimulate, not suppress turnout among the poor.

crr6 on April 29, 2008 at 7:24 PM

Those 20 million folks without ID are illegal aliens, as that is the true number, not the 8-12 million constantly reported. I cannot accept your number of black Indianans without ID unless you can provide a reputable link – that number is way beyond believable. To your comment that there is no demonstrable risk of voter fraud, I suggest you review the investigations in Milwaukee Wisconsin where vote fraud in 2000 gave the entire state to Al Gore, the fraud which occurs every election in St Louis, Missouri, where city patronage employees track the deceased and excercise their vote for them, and also Philadelphia 2000, where in 2 or maybe 3 large precincts, more than 100% of eligible voters in the precinct cast votes. I do agree with you that ‘everyone who is a law abiding adult US citizen deserves the right to vote’ – voter ID maintains that by removing the right to vote from 1.) children/pets, 2.) the deceased, and 3.) illegal aliens. Unfortunately for democrats, these three groups provide the margin of victory in many precincts, and this is why they are complaining about voter ID.

Think_b4_speaking on April 30, 2008 at 1:54 PM

I can not believe that voters in the united states do not want thier vote to be counted fairly.

Voter fraud is a very serious problem. We as legal voters should stand up and demand that our votes are not negated by a dog in indiana.

I say indiana however the problem exist in every state in the union. This not just indiana’s problem but a national crisis.

As an american citizen i value my right to vote. We (my wife and i) have identifacation documents. I can not belive that any american citizen does not some form of i.d.

driver’s licsence?
state i.d.?
birth certificate?
marriage certifacate?
social security number?
naturalization papers?

I truly applaud indiana’s attempt delete voter fraud. And admire the court for supporting the state.

It truly amazes me that it is easier to vote than to pay for your puchase at walmart.

Like tom hanks said in BIG after he raised his hand “I don’t
get it”

TomLawler on April 30, 2008 at 3:22 PM

So, they are pro-disenfranchisement, as long as those disenfranchised are not under their special protection.

Meaning, if it’s just a few votes cast by persons who should not be voting, that’s ok since most likely the votes that are nullified were cast for candidates they wouldn’t support anyway and by making sure those voters with the greatest need for the government trough were able to vote, they can further expand their ideological base.

TheCulturalist on April 30, 2008 at 6:51 PM

The disenfranchisement issue is a classic straw man argument. The left’s position is that in order to provide an environment whereby all “qualified” citizens are guaranteed a vote, we must accept an environment that enables fraudulent votes. When there is no method of identifying a valid voter beforehand, it becomes impossible to identify how invalid votes affected the election.

The left is perfectly satisfied with this arrangement since it is their candidates who benefit most from the votes of “unrestored” felons, the deceased, children, pets, and illegals. If you don’t believe that the democrats are most often the beneficiaries of those pseudo-votes, Google “illegal votes” and scan through the recent referenced cases.

The time to assure that all votes cast will be valid is before the election. The task of deducting illegal votes after the fact is inexact and difficult (see Harvard Law Review, “Deducting Illegal Votes in Contested Elections).” According to the HLR article, there are multiple methods of deducting illegal votes and the courts are tasked with selecting the method that will most accurately deduct known, identified illegal votes from a candidate. While it’s possible to identify illegal votes, it’s not possible to ascertain who they (illegally) voted for.

Garnet92 on April 30, 2008 at 7:28 PM

Democracy was the big loser in the Supreme Court on Monday. The court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law, which solves a nearly nonexistent problem by putting major barriers between voters — particularly minorities — and the ballot box.

Why does the Left believe that “minorities” are too stupid to do something as simple as obtain a free state ID card (if they don’t already have a drivers license)?

Anyone on the Right making the suggestion would be excoriated.

seanrobins on May 1, 2008 at 10:35 PM

The disenfranchisement issue is a classic straw man argument. The left’s position is that in order to provide an environment whereby all “qualified” citizens are guaranteed a vote, we must accept an environment that enables fraudulent votes

It would be nice to think that this was simply a question of an honest difference of opinion — But we can all rest assured that it is a matter of the Left’s blantant effort to assure continued benefit from fraudulent voters.

Of course, this is why the Times and others take as a given that fraudulent voting is not a problem.

seanrobins on May 1, 2008 at 10:42 PM