Equal Protection

EQUAL PROTECTION….The Supreme Court today upheld Indiana’s shiny new voter ID law, a law that plainly fails to address any actual problem. Or does it? From the lead opinion:

It remains true, however, that flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years, and that Indiana’s own experience with fraudulent voting in the 2003 Democratic primary for East Chicago Mayor — though perpetrated using absentee ballots and not in-person fraud — demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.

And what are the examples of voter fraud that John Paul Stevens managed to adduce to support this paragraph? Marty Lederman tells us: (1) Boss Tweed stuffing ballot boxes in 1868, (2) a case in Washington state in which one person committed voter fraud, and (3) a 2003 case of fraud in Indiana which, as Stevens acknowledges, the new law wouldn’t cover because it was done via absentee ballot.

Presumably these were the best examples that anyone could come up with. And what do you conclude from them? That’s easy: in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare while absentee voter fraud is, perhaps, a problem genuinely worth addressing. Needless to say, though, Indiana’s law does exactly the opposite: it requires voter ID for in-person voting and does nothing to ensure the integrity of absentee voting.

We all know why this is: it’s because, as Common Cause reminds us, restricting in-person voting tends to reduce turnout among minorities, the elderly, voters with disabilities, the poor, and the young — all of which, though CC is too polite to mention it, tend to vote Democratic. Absentee voters, by contrast, tend to vote Republican.

So what’s the real motivation for Indiana’s law? That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? And pretty shameful.