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April 29th, 2008
03:28 PM ET

The Constitution says no, but Supreme Court says yes

Jami Floyd
360° Contributor
"In Session" Anchor

The US Supreme Court yesterday issued a ruling in the most important voting case since Bush v. Gore. The case is Crawford v. Marion County, in which the Court upheld Indiana's law requiring a government-issued photo ID as a condition of voting. Legal scholars will be analyzing the decision for weeks and years to come, but here are a few things we already know.

First, as the Court acknowledged, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Indiana. Indeed, there is not one recorded case of voter fraud in Indiana based on misidentification. Still, (and even though the Indiana law could disenfranchise real voters) the Justices held that the plaintiffs had not proven that the Indiana law violates the Constitution by imposing the requirement.

So, why should we care about the lofty decisions of nine people in black robes?
Here’s why: Because the right to vote is your right to vote. And while the home mortgage crisis, rising gas prices and the war in Iraq are understandably more pressing concerns for American families, the right to vote blankets all of these. The vote gives you power, through your representatives, to regulate the mortgage industry and provide relief to those most affected by it, manage the rising cost of fuel and our dependence on it, and to decide when to go to war and when to end it.

But now, with Crawford we can expect a major push in state legislatures and Congress to pass very restrictive voter ID laws. And, whatever the merits voter ID in theory, the requirement is invariably crafted to impact the poor, minorities, the elderly, the disabled and others who, because of life circumstance, simply lack a state-issued photo ID.

Editor's note: Read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session”


Filed under: Raw Politics • Supreme Court • Voting
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. TYRONE ISMAEL

    i cannot belive that i am wittnesing right before my very eyes the media turning this election around and handing the nomination on a silver platter to sen hillary clinton. no one in their right mind can belive that senator obama harbors rev wrights outlook on this country. but yet just like robots avarage americans will actually not think for themselves and let a revolving door of media republicans dictate by so called tv media shows, how and what they should think of mr obama. this is a very sad time in our country, when even now people roboticlly allow the media to define a person instead of looking into their own hearts and minds. senator obama is whats needed for this country. they say he .cant win because he is black, then they say its only because! he is black......that he is winning? it seems that you have to even try harder when your black......even to run for president.a non vote for senator obama simply because of his race,or faith undermines what our brave young men and woman are fighting and dying for.

    April 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  2. Jim, Las Vegas, NV

    Give me a break! The right to vote is no different than the right to free speech. You don't have the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. You don't have the right to libel or slander someone. Freedoms are not absolute. In order to protect my right to vote, I need to know that my right is not being abridged by cheaters.

    April 30, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  3. LB

    I only have two questions and maybe one of you could provde the answers. First, why now? Second, why this election?

    April 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
  4. Gulfport Grannie

    For goodness sakes, who doesn't have picture ID these days? You can't do anything without it, Kudos to the person who suggested that we all need to check to be sure that the old people and the disabled in our neighborhoods have proper ID, and if they don't, help them get it, for lots of other reasons than just voting.

    April 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  5. Minority with ID

    As a minority (and a citizen), I find it incredibly offensive that Jami has chosen to use my demographic as an example of those who will be disenfranchised. Seriously?

    I think she's associating "minority" with either "poor," or "illegal." She's already named the former, and the latter doesn't have the right to vote.

    "Lofty decisions of nine in black robes"? Way to have respect for our country and the Constitution (the very document you're claiming to be on your side). Lest you forget, the Constitution established the Supreme court and gave it the power to interpret the Constitution. You were given no such power.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:07 am |
  6. john

    It's about time someone got it right. I wish the state of CA had the guts to do the same thing.

    Anyone who thinks the court is wrong, should read the majority opinion as writen my the court biggest definder of the right wing, John Paul Stevens.

    April 30, 2008 at 3:05 am |
  7. Kevin Smith

    The first most troubling thing about this decision is that it was 6 to 3. The second is the accelerating trend of this Court to favor bureaucratic policy to the diminshment of the "rights" of individual citizens.

    As of this ruling we can expect a future where only those who have state issued IDs can vote. "Let me see your papers." is no longer a quote from some old movie, it's the only way you get into an American voting booth.

    The current Court is no friend of liberty. Having said that, it's still our fault that this happened as we elected the tiny minds that appointed them.

    April 30, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  8. Lisette Chicago, IL

    Stupid law!
    We don't need this
    anymore than we need
    all those security checks at the airport.

    April 29, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  9. SMJ

    Again, the Sumpreme court has decieded to affect/change the people's vote. ID's are revelant when there is an obivious question about someones identity Voters should not be harrassed will trying to exercise their constitional right.

    April 29, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    I don't see the problem with requiring a photo id. I'm disabled and have a tremendous amount of trouble (and pain) going anywhere – but I still managed to get a photo id. Lots of states will do these ids free; some charge a nominal amount for it. In these days of identity theft I think its only smart to have a photo id.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  11. Devil's Advocate

    If I understand Bree's comment, then she is advocating that a man who obviously does not keep up with issues should be able to vote. She said he might not even know that an ID will be required because he is so disconnected from the world.

    I guess an important question to ask is this– why exactly does he feel the need to take part in a public issue if he does not care enough to stay up to date? Of course he has the right to vote, but he has not exactly lost the right yet...

    She goes on to say that an elderly senile woman votes at every election. Does anyone get the feeling she likes the voting-event more than she actually wants a certain candidate to win?

    Once again, she has not lost her right to vote, it's just another step anyone would have to take towards responsible citizenship.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Sharon from Indy

    As a poll worker in Indiana for ten years, I have never had a complaint about showing picture ID during an election whether local or national.

    Actually, in Indiana we have more problems having enough people to work the polls to open on election day.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  13. bob

    If you are too stupid to make a decent living or figure out how to get a FREE state issued ID you shouldn't be allowed to vote. It is the stupid, uneducated voters that have gotten us into this mess. And they always vote democrat....mmmmm...what does that say bout the democrats.

    April 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  14. Mike in NYC

    Bree in Marion County, INDIANA wrote:

    "An old woman I know is senile, ... and she has loyally voted in every federal election ..."

    Not to be a grinch, but a senile person should not be voting.

    Eliza wrote:

    "Just another case of Bush’s mimions [sic] making sure that only the “right” people get to vote."

    John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion. Appointed by Ford, many conservatives feel he drifted to the left during his tenure on the Court. Certainly not a Bush "minion."

    According to CNN:

    "Stevens candidly noted the "real-world impact" of a statute passed by a GOP-controlled state Legislature and signed by a Republican governor."

    The doors have been left open for other challenges to similar state laws, but personally, I have no problem with this.

    April 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  15. Kayleen

    I agree with the ruling on having ID. There is too much going on now a days with identity theft and fraud not to be concerned. However, if you feel the blame is to be direceted at the system from dissallowing someone the right to vote because they do not have the internet, television, car, poor, well I lay that all on the complainers of this law. These are all just excuses for laziness on your part (not the people who are without ids). It is you who have not done your part by making your services to these people, who obviously must not know anyone but you, to obtain a simple state Id. How about instead, offering a ride to drive them down to the DMV. How about helping them with questions or any other obstacle they may have. How about even going that extra little farther by paying for their card. If you are all so concerned about their right to vote, instead of trying to making us "protectionist" feel sorry for wanting our freedoms and personal rights protected, well then act instead of complain. If you find yourself feeling as though it should not be you paying for their id card than ask yourself whether you are really concerned about their right to vote.

    April 29, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  16. T

    This is modern day Jim Crow. Another attempt to systematically take power out of the hands of the poor and minorities to further the agenda of the rich, white power structure. No one mentions Sean Bell and how the whole system of police brutality has been crippling the Black Community..Yet the focus of all right and left wing media has been Rev. Wright. White America needs to wake up and smell the coffe. May I suggest you face up to the fact that America is still racist and if you don't believe that ask those victims of Katrina, Ask the family of Yusef Hawkins, and Abner Luima. Of course there two Americas and the white one only cares if they are exposed for the racist white supremist regime it really is. That is why most countries around the world Do not like Americans or America for that matter.

    April 29, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  17. Valerie

    Yes, we used the ID in Ohio. If showing ID's will stop voting fraud. I say show them. Lets make this privilege honest.

    April 29, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  18. huntingdonpost

    This is the equivalent of the Jim Crow laws that had literacy tests to prevent black people from voting, except now it will be anyone who doesn't have a passport or a driver's license. I agree with Rong from RI that the electoral college is the real disenfranchiser, but this is still a method of stopping people from having their vote count.

    April 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  19. John in Lincoln, NE

    Voting isn't a privilege, it's a right. It can be argued that it's an obligation even, but it's not a privilege.

    As the article says, these laws will target the most vulnerable sector of society, the people who are least represented already.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  20. mike

    I live in CT and when I vote the first thing the register does is take my ID and verify my address on the rolls. I have never had an issue. Most if not all people have some form of ID. You need it to buy beer, drive a car, get on a plane, and many other every day things. Verification of ones identity is paramount these days.

    Also, the constitution says one vote for one person. I see no problem making sure one person votes once. All we need is someone voting twice by saying they’re someone else who has been dead for 10 years.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  21. Doug Pierson Tohatchi, NM

    What is the difference between requiring that a voter be a property owner or that he or she have an ID? The property requirement was declared unconstitutional. If even one person is disenfranchised because of this ruling isn't it still wrong?

    April 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  22. Will, WA

    I read a little bit of Souter's dissenting comments, trying to find some reason to disagree with the supreme. ...I didn't. I think proving you're you is necessary. It's not a "test", unless you count having to get an id a test... but that's absurd. You have to be able to read the names and other information on the ballot. Should we consider that a "test" too?

    April 29, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  23. Lisa

    Couldn't one's drivers license be considered as an ID card? Here in CA, we have pictures on ours. Seems easy enough. The last thing I need to worry about is some other form of picture ID. I can understand that, however, if you don't have a drivers license. Though I don't think it's happened, wouldn't it be interesting to show up at your polling place only to find out that "you" already voted? A picture ID is not denying anyone the right to vote - only proving that YOU do have the right to vote.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  24. Michael Gretz

    It is about time, I can’t believe you don’t have to show a state ID to vote, just say your name and hope it is on the list? You have to do more to check out a $3 book, just another backwoods view from the media, about a common sense solution.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  25. Steve

    I thought this was a joke when I read it yesterday. How can anyone say this impeeds their Constitutional Rights when required to prove that they are who they say they are? What stops me from walking into the voting booth 10 times? This is just my assumption, but I seriously doubt that this will have a negative impact on even the slightest percentage of active voters.

    Take advantage of your right to use common sense before you get in a huff about your Constitutional Rights. Come on, people.

    April 29, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  26. Luke Langford

    I think that most of the outrage over this ruling is perpetuated by the media. It really is AMAZING that one can vote without a photo ID. You need a photo ID for so many trivial (or at least less important) things! Surely you should have one to prove who you are when you vote.

    I don't doubt that there are people who don't have them – but they can get them. They manage to register to vote somehow... they can learn to get a photo ID.

    I do not believe, as this blogger wrote, that "with Crawford we can expect a major push in state legislatures and Congress to pass very restrictive voter ID laws" Rubbish.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  27. JAC

    I have always had to show my ID to vote in FL.

    While I don't think that one person could make much of difference by trying to vote at different precincts...What? That might make 3 extra votes for someone? ... I do think you should show an ID of some kind.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  28. Diana

    They are worried about voter fraud??? Trying worring about "ID" fraud & "Driver License" fraud. You hear about people going to Mexico for the forms of ID. So how do they check for "ID" or "Drivers License" fraud???

    April 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  29. Eliza

    Just another case of Bush's mimions making sure that only the "right" people get to vote. Sheesh!

    April 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  30. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    I don't think you need a photo ID for absentee ballots in IN. For someone who is infirmed, you can download the form from the internet, complete it, and mail it in. You may not have time to do this before the primary, but you should be able to before the general election in November.

    For anyone who wants to get a state photo ID, they can look in the phone book for the Secretary of State's office. They should call ahead to see what documents may be required.

    Photo ID's make a lot of sense, and they are required for many things in addition to voting.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  31. Bill in Nebraska

    What the screaming ......... How can they do this? Is it not spelled out in the Constitution? Who are these people? We can do it so lets recall them or impeach them. They don't see to be able to do there jobs at all.

    Very angry with the "Justices"

    April 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  32. FedUpWithIt

    Welcome to the world that must abandon common sense to accommodate the slimmest portions of the populations. I have had to show a valid drivers license/ID to rent an apartment, test drive a car, obtain a loan, obtain a job, write a check, and the list goes on and on. I have no problem and have no idea why anyone would have an issue with ensuring that only legitimate voters cast a vote in any election.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  33. deborah,OH

    Jami, wonder if the Supreme Court is now going to work on the problem of the unfortunate people, who don't have an ID, and THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE!?!? @Bree-that lady is just ONE example; God knows how many more people are impacted!

    April 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  34. rong from RI

    After reading Bree from Indiana's comment I have to say Indiana should be allowed to require 2 ID's

    April 29, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  35. John

    Why do Democrats always complain about election fraud, then when we try to do something as simple as a state issued ID, they cry wolf about disenfranchising some group or the other. The only group that this disenfranchises are illegals, who should be voting in the first place.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  36. Bree in Marion County, INDIANA

    An Indiana resident myself, I personally know some people without photo identification who will be disenfranchised as a consequence of this ruling. One man is impoverished; he has no phone, no internet, no way of knowing how he might require a free state-issued “voter I.D” which the state claims is the solution for poor citizens without an I.D. An old woman I know is senile, without family and has no I.D. She may walk to the village supermarket to purchase her groceries each week and she has loyally voted in every federal election but she has no idea what a state issued I.D is nor the internet, nor digital cable, etc. I seriously doubt she and so many others like her will be voting in November thanks to the unconstitutional supreme court.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  37. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Sorry, I say, show the photo ID. ID's are used on a daily basis. Voting is no different. It's a privilege to vote, so show that ID with pride...just my two cents.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  38. rong from RI

    I personally have no problems with the ruling. I have often been concerned about the lack of controls at the polling place. Anybody can be anybody they want to be there. Besides, being from a small state which casts only 4 electoral votes disenfranchises me a lot more than having to show an ID.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  39. BJ, Bangor, ME

    Honestly, I'm still stunned whenever I go to vote that I'm not required to show any ID. What's to prevent me from going to multiple polling places pretending to be other people?

    I do think, though, that the requirements for what is accepted as ID should be relaxed enough so that anyone who wants to vote would be able to show something with their name on it.

    April 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm |