September 25th, 2007
11:00 AM ET
11 years ago

High court to decide fairness of voter identification laws

The Supreme Court will wade into the voter identification controversy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of state voter identification laws, amid allegations they discourage large groups of disenfranchised Americans from going to the polls.

The two voter ID cases accepted by the justices Tuesday were among 17 appeals added to the court's docket. The oral arguments will be held early next year, with a ruling by late June.

At issue is whether laws designed to stem voter fraud end up discriminating against large groups of minority and poorer Americans, who might lack proper identification or might be afraid of putting their personal information on government files.

The cases involve an Indiana law passed two years ago requiring that a photo ID be presented when casting ballots in person at polling stations around the state. Previously, citizens needed only to sign a poll book to vote.

State and federal courts around the country have issued conflicting rulings on voter ID laws. Missouri's laws was found unconstitutional, but similar laws in Georgia, Arizona and Michigan were found to be proper.

Civil rights activists and the state Democratic Party complain Indiana's law was an effort by state Republican leaders to reduce turnout among minority voters, many of whom might be inclined to vote Democratic.

The Supreme Court has already accepted two election-related appeals, scheduled to be heard next week. One involves Washington state's open primary system and the other is a dispute over selecting state judges in New York.

The new voter identification cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (07-21) and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita (07-25).

- Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears

Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    Here in Wisconsin, thankfully, our governor VEOTED a voter ID bill. People who talk about voter ID laws don't think about the fact that MANY elderly do NOT have photo ID's! for WHAT? think about it....they dont go anywhere, hardly but maybe the grocery store every now and then. However, elderly vote in large numbers and should not be denyed that right simply because they choose not to go out of their way to get an id made

    September 25, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    It occurs to me that the government has had my fingerprints on file in the pentagon for twenty-five years(educational requirement-don't ask)why can't I just stick a thumb or finger on a sensor and go where I want?I think I've put more than enough information on file,what's the hold-up?

    September 25, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. Mikey

    Perhaps the solution to this problem COULD BE quite simple. When someone applies for a social security card, give them a legitimate national photo ID–for free (same thing at the state level). It couldn't cost more than a few dollars to actually make the cards. 300million x $3–peanuts!

    The entire ID system could be streamlined.

    September 25, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. Anon

    Almost everyone has some form od I.D. The only people who don't are illegal immigrants or people who don't vote anyway. This issue is just about democrats trying to give votes to illegal immigrants under the name of "disenfranchisement" so they can win elections. The only people being disenfranchised are true American citizens.

    September 25, 2007 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  5. Mia, Stafford, VA

    I wish I could come to these blogs and not be surprised by how mean people can be. I find that there is a new low everyday. Are you looking through tunnel vision, where you just don't get that EVERYONE DOES NOT HAVE A CAR, you might be surprised to find out THAT EVERY AMERICAN DOESN'T HAVE INDOOR PLUMBING, so why when we have POVERTY at this LEVEL IN AMERICA STILL, are we surprised that legal poor citizens, may not be priortizing a trip to the DMV. Or trying to call someone (on the phone they don't have) to come and set them up for an ID?

    There is a reason there is a law against poll taxes, but those who forget so soon, remain quick to judge. I love my country, but I am so disappointed in many of my fellow citizens who are SO QUICK TO JUDGE.

    Why do people have to be dumb because they don't have a legal id? Has anyone tried to get a drivers license lately? It is more than a notion to legal willing citizens. Why do people have to have something to hide because they don't have id's?

    I urge all of you to try this character building exercise called empathy. Maybe then if you attempted to imagine how would you feel if you were that person with no ID and judged so harshly you wouldn't be so darn mean and crass.

    September 25, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. jasman, Charolette, SC

    Think about it, if one doesn't need an id to vote then anyone can vote anywhere and as often as they wish.

    As for the poor unless they are homeless they do have an address to receive an absentee ballot. If they don't have a permanent address they can't register to vote to begin with.

    Every jurisdiction has residence requirements in order to register to vote. How does one prove residency, with an address of course.

    If anything, it may be that the absentee ballot is unconstitutional.

    September 25, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  7. Reatte Beaumont, Texas

    What is so funny about the whole thing is that as U.S citizens we have to show ID's for anything from license renewals, when we buy houses we show proof who we are, credit cards at most places execpt for bank of america unless you are illegal and they will give you credit then we the tax payers will have to bail them out, have to show proof when buying cars, anything that we use anymore we have to show proof. It is sad that the people that are abiding by the laws are getting punished for the ones that aren't abiding the law. The ones that I feel for are the ones that are trying to go threw the right channels to come to our country legally and they are having to wait for quite some time to even step foot on OUR SOIL. It seem that the elite in washington want to open all our borders to any and everything that would like to come here and then seen in the paper about the social security needs help and they want to cut benefits and raise taxes to pay for the ones that do not deserve the benefits. Our SENIORS are were the back bone of our country and they are having to skip doctor appointments, medicines,eating to live from pay day to pay day but lets let the ones that aren't citizens have evrything that belongs to our citizens. This is no longer the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA it is becoming the state of illegals and what they need and want. I hope that this next election that the people of the country wake up and vote the right people in at the great white house in washington if not it will be controlled by other country's government and that will be very ugly.


    September 25, 2007 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. r. james

    Idiots.......all idiots

    September 26, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  9. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Hi Ed, since I just went through this process I am aware of what is needed.

    There is a list of many TYPES of different forms that are used to PROVE name, DOB and residence, MANY.

    And since you are hung up on the SS card thing – Note:

    A valid Social Security Number that verifies with the Social Security Administration or an acceptable written denial notice from the Social Security Administration may be used.

    I know government paperwork is tedious as hell as I had to go back because I MISREAD the requirements, but after compliance, I was all set.

    This is doable and totally necessary and to simply dismiss it as racist, bigoted or too hard to do is wrong.

    September 26, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Moderator-Tom of Dedham-is a juvenile poster with serious problems,please delete his derogatory personal remarks if I am not allowed to respond in kind.Thank you.

    September 26, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Thank you Mia!

    September 26, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Tom-you are wrong as usual,the patriot act makes it illegal for ssa to replace your card based on it's own records.A record of denial for an american already enrolled is not available.Why can't you support bio-metric identification instead of a dysfunctional catch 22 system?Is it maybe because you consider this country to be a "republic" that restricts voting rights?My idea is far better than some silly plastic card that could be fake anyway.The only people that would object to that would be the criminal element(might boost the glove industry.)Grow up and use your brain instead of spreading falsehoods and making juvenile assumptions.

    September 26, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Mia I take exception to your insinuation about a lack of empathy here. If someone can't afford or get to a place that provides them, they will get them for free and at their homes.

    How can we make this any easier or clearer?

    This should be a no-brainer as we hear about reforming our elections and this would be a good first step.

    If a Democrat wins office, fine, as long as we know that it is legit.

    That poll tax BS is just a way for the Democrats to scare up their base (just like the Republicans do, right) as how can it be a tax if it is provided for free to those that can't afford it.

    So Ed, even though my position is echoed by many on this particular blog by it seems, both sides of the fence, I am sure you are wholly against it as that would take away the constant drum beat of how the elections were stolen.

    As the Democrats in Chicago used to say Ed, vote early and vote often.

    September 26, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    I would like to openly apologize to Ed from Ellenville for using facts to support my views. I will never use these derogatory tactics again.

    Ed for the record, I did a direct cut and paste from a government website from Massachusetts that states in order to obtain an ID card (a liquor ID card or simply a Mass ID card) that can be used as proof of who you are, your age and residency in order to VOTE for instance.

    I used the 18 years or older for obvious reasons.

    If you are 18 years of age or older:

    You must present the following:

    • SSN Card or valid, current U.S. or non-U.S. Passport (see below)
    • Document proving date of birth
    • Document proving signature
    • Document proving Massachusetts residency

    Note: One of the documents, other than a SSN card or passport, must be a Primary document.

    •A valid Social Security Number that verifies with the Social Security Administration or an acceptable written denial notice from the Social Security Administration.

    I am on your side Ed that there must be ways to streamline the process, but from your comments it appears that you don't want a method of proof to be used.

    If I am wrong on that part, I apologize.

    September 26, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    I accept your apology,please consider that my idea is far more radical than the current system and the common sense that is behind it would likely fall to the wayside as it would be attacked by both sides as an intrusion of privacy.Nonetheless it has to be done.Companies who hire these illegals unknowingly are responsible for their being here and bio-metrics would stop that.So please consider a better approach.

    September 26, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    In lieu of your methods being years away (and again I agree, actually I never DISAGREED on some different mechanism being used down the road) shouldn't we still attempt to get this worked out for the good of the country?

    September 26, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Tony in TN

    This is BS! Illegal aliens are just that...frigging illegal and they DO NOT have a right to anything other than a bus ticket out of here...period! End of

    September 26, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Absolutely,and let's have a fine for not voting like other countries.When we agree on principle,but not on method,all it takes is civil discussion to resolve our differences.Thank you for stepping back and gaining perspective.Your ability to think through this shows that a northeasterner of either party could effectively govern.I suggest that those of us who have outdated forms of ID be given the right to grandfather in.It isn't fair to change the rules 3/4 of the way through the game and penalize such a large number of americans.It isn't our fault for being older.

    September 26, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. Ian Smith

    What about the homeless? They require an ID to get a job. No ID means no SS Card from the SSA. Don't have proof of residence (HOMELESS!) you can't get an ID. Even if you have a birth certificate and nothing else you are stuck in an endless circle. Can't provide two forms of ID or proof of residence, then you can't get a license, an ID card, a voters registration card, or a job. You are an illegal in the eyes of the DMV.

    January 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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